Walton townhouse project gets green light in Pointe-Claire – Montreal


Pointe-Claire residents are disappointed after learning the city is allowing developers to build townhouses as part of the Walton project, on the site of an old strip mall at 110 Walton Avenue.

The city’s demolition committee voted two to one in favour of the project in spite of traffic and safety concerns.

The main argument against the project is that the proposed 24 townhouses were not the right fit for the single-home style neighborhood.

Pointe-Claire approves Walton strip mall demolition but nixes townhouse development

After a public outcry, the developer tweaked the design, cutting the project to 20 townhouses.

The revamped design includes a public park and architectural changes more in line with the rest of the area.

Watch below: The City of Pointe-Claire decided it will rework the lot of the Walton Avenue strip mall but refused the proposed plan of a housing development. 

“I believe they’re wrong and I will be looking to see how we can stop this project,” said Pointe-Claire resident Genny Gomes.

“I will appeal.”

Pointe-Claire approves Walton strip mall demolition but nixes townhouse development

Last year, the demolition committee had granted the developer permission to demolish but gave them six months to tweak their design.

Mondev owner David Owen refused to comment on the decision but told residents at the meeting the project is going to be good for the area.

“We feel like we’ve listened and tried our best to accommodate people’s concerns,” Owen said.

— with files from Global’s Elysia Bryan-Baynes, Kalina Laframboise and Rachel Lau

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Creamed Green, Mushroom, & Corn Slab Pie


A classic crowd-pleasing side, creamed greens, is transformed into a meal in this savory pie. Cream of Mushroom Soup binds the filling and adds a boost of flavor without adding tons of ingredients and time. Serve with a side salad for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


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A Blistered Green Bean Recipe That Everyone In the Family Will Eat


Once I got an email from a Bon Appétit reader who said her husband is a picky eater, and listed all of his likes and dislikes. He likes vegetables, in small amounts, but NO GREEN BEANS. Of all things. Green beans! I’m going to venture he was traumatized by canned ones microwaved with margarine and iodized salt like the ones I grew up with. Or frozen ones, steamed to flavorless mush, also probably in the microwave. Green beans have had some rough times in the efficiency era. So I sent the reader some green-bean-less recipes, and hoped for the best. But we really needed Chris Morocco to help us rebrand* weeknight green beans. Help us, Chris!

And he did, because Chris Morocco is a professional. Maybe you’ve had Gan Bian Si Ji Dou before, or can recognize those wrinkly-wonderful green beans by sight from across a crowded dining room. That Sichuan dish of dry-fried string beans, Sichuan peppercorns, chiles, ginger, garlic, and maybe some pickles (among other variations), inspired Chris’s recipe, which replicates that texture, with otherwise pared-down ingredients. The goal was to fry beans that end up concentrated with flavor and this blistered, almost crunchy texture that is, to your brain, potato chips. YUM.

Let’s make them together, through words.

Heat oil in a cast iron pan until it’s shimmering, then add a ton of green beans that you’ve hopefully dried completely, otherwise you’re in for SplatterTime. Let them brown, almost like you’re making ground meat, for around three minutes, no touching. Turn them with tongs to brown the other side, then the other side, and then the other side…well you get what I mean. They’re round, do your best. Get them wrinkly and blistered to near-burnt. Flavor arrives in the final minute.

The final minute!!!

This is when you add six sliced garlic cloves, a handful of capers, salt, and red pepper flakes. That simple combo will bring you a slap of flavor. Yeah, it slaps. The garlic will brown quickly, like a minute, and—hurry!—transfer everything to a bowl before it burns. Once you’re eating them all, with your fingers, you’ll realize that you can follow this recipe with any otherwise traumatically blah weeknight green you’ve been avoiding. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, all of those vegetables called out in cartoons when kids won’t finish their plates. Give ‘em another go!

Get the recipe:


*Let us help YOU rebrand a vegetable for a quarter of the price of any advertising firm. Email staff.bonappetit@gmail.com with your sad vegetable inquiry!


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Blistered Green Beans with Garlic Recipe


Heat oil in a large skillet over high until shimmering. Add green beans (the dryer they are, the less they will spatter when they hit the oil) and cook, covering skillet as needed if beans are spattering, until browned underneath, about 3 minutes. Turn beans with tongs and redistribute so they brown evenly (don’t toss them since hot oil can easily slosh out of skillet if you try to show off). Continue to cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over and tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt. Add garlic, capers, and red pepper flakes. Cook, tossing occasionally, just until garlic turns golden, about 1 minute.


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Union wants Canada Post to start low-income bank and green shift. Sounds nice, but who pays?


As arbitration grinds on at Canada Post following back-to-work legislation passed in November, the union has made a series of proposals beyond standard contract negotiations on wages and benefits: they want the Crown corporation to open a new bank for low-income people and turn the post office into a hub for green technology

With one of the country’s largest vehicle fleets that could be converted from gas to electric power, 6,000 distribution outlets where electric car-charging stations for consumers could be built, and old buildings ready to be retrofitted with solar panels, the post office is well positioned to help Canada transition to a greener economy, said the union’s president.

There’s one major problem with the ambitious proposal, according to critics: Who’s going to pay for it?

Debates over how institutions should reduce their carbon footprint — and how the changes should be financed —  are playing out across the public and private sectors as leading scientists warn the world has just 12 years to drastically reduce emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change. 

« Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity, » Mike Palecek, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) said in an interview. « We have to address it … Canada Post is the biggest piece of federal infrastructure, it has the largest vehicle fleet in the country, it would be a good place to start. »

He couldn’t say how much the proposals would cost.

Canada Post declined to comment on demands for a postal bank and the green retrofit. « With the arbitration process now underway, it would be inappropriate to comment on specific negotiations issues, » a spokesperson told CBC News by email. « We are committed to the process and are fully engaged with the union and the arbitrator. »    

A government-appointed arbitrator is expected to announce a deal for a new contract in March, after workers on rotating strikes were legislated back to work in late November amid long delays for packages amid the Christmas delivery rush.

Banking on change

The proposed postal bank is aimed at rural residents, including First Nations, who often don’t have easy access to a bank branch, said John Anderson, researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a think-tank whose advocacy areas include reducing income inequality. It would also benefit low-income Canadians, including pensioners and the working poor who often depend on payday lenders for loans, cheque cashing and other financial services.

Popular in France, the U.K., Italy and other countries, postal banking in Canada would almost certainly be profitable, he said, citing a 2016 survey that suggested three million Canadians and about one-third of businesses would use financial services from the post office.

Management at Canada Post — including president and CEO Jessica McDonald, at the podium, and CFO Wayne Cheeseman, left — has not been receptive to demands for a green retrofit or postal banking, the union says. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The post office already handles financial transactions, and the federal government runs other successful banking organizations, such as the Export Bank of Canada and Farm Credit Canada, Anderson added.

Canada’s federal pension plan even invested in China’s postal bank, he said, indicating that such plans are financially viable. 

« The federal government — through its ownership of Canada Post —  is the only body that could bring modern financial services to every community in Canada, » Anderson said. « That would be great competition for the big banks, which are profitable partially because of the high service fees they charge compared to other banks worldwide. »

Taxpayer interests

Canada Post hasn’t been receptive to demands for the green retrofit or the postal bank, according to CUPW’s president.

That’s a good thing, said Alex Whalen, vice-president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a Halifax-based think-tank that supports reducing government spending.

« I don’t think taxpayer interests would be served by those proposals, » Whalen said. « The concern has to be that there are public dollars involved. »

As a Crown corporation, Canada Post is required to be financially self-sustaining. With more than 60,000 employees, the company made a pre-tax profit of $74 million in 2017, largely due to increased parcel delivery thanks to Amazon, according to its financial statements. Investing in projects outside of its core mandate of delivering mail could jeopordize its profitability, Whalen said.

« If there were good returns in this kind of business, the private sector would already be doing it, » Whalen said of the proposed postal bank. « If the union thinks this is a great idea, are they going to be an investor in the bank? »

Pension financing?

To finance the union’s proposals, there is one obvious source of funds outside of asking taxpayers or the company: workers’ pensions.

With about $25 billion under management, stocks in the big Canadian banks and oil companies — some of the very industries the union’s proposals are trying to tackle — make up some of the largest investments for postal workers’ pensions, according to 2017 financial statements

The workers, however, have no say over how their pensions are invested, Paleck said. « We have no decision-making power whatsoever. »

Canada Post workers seen here during the last hours on the picket line in Montreal on Nov. 27, 2018, before returning to work, ordered by the government to end their rotating strike. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press )

That situation isn’t unusual for Canadian workers, said Tessa Hebb, a researcher at Carleton University’s Centre for Community Innovation who specializes in responsible investing.

« Some representation from employees would be really beneficial, both for the positive components for adjusting to a low-carbon economy and also for the basic protections for workers, » from bad decisions by pension fund managers, she said.

However, she cautions against the idea of using pension funds from CUPW to finance new initiatives at Canada Post like the postal bank or green retrofit.

« You don’t want the pension funds to be constrained in investing in their own business, » Hebb said. « The legal term for that is self-dealing. »

Such moves have often hurt workers when the companies themselves face financial trouble and look to their employees’ pension funds as a source of capital, she said, citing the examples of Sears and Nortel Networks.

In the U.S., pensions under union control — or funds jointly managed by workers and management — have made a series of profitable investments in green technologies or urban renewal projects like affordable housing, she said. And there’s no reason why similar successes couldn’t be replicated in Canada. 

« Ten years ago, if you were a pension fund in California and you were an early investor in Tesla, you certainly made your money back and then some, » Hebb said. « The shift to a low-carbon economy is going to bring forward some really interesting investment opportunities. »


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Fort McMurray quadruplets given green light to go home


When Fort McMurray couple Annie and Darrell Simms saw four small outlines on the ultrasound screen, they realized their lives were about to change in a big way.

“Annie and I looked at each other and we were in shock,” said Darrell. ”We laughed and then we cried a little bit.”

On Oct. 30, 2018, Carter, Nathan, Heidi, and Julia were born at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, ranging in weight from one pound and three ounces to three pounds and four ounces.

Annie and Darrell Simms are heading home to Fort McMurray with their four new additions.

Michael King/Global News

The couple already has a three-year-old daughter and when they were looking to have a second child, they turned to artificial fertilization. Annie said the chances of success were low.

“[Our chances of getting pregnant] were only 10 to 15 per cent, so we were so happy,” said Annie. ”Then we were totally floored when we found out that it was four.”

Quadruplets born in Calgary: ‘I can’t believe there’s four of them’

Each baby spent some time in the NICU since they were born at 30 weeks. The boys went home first and now all four have been given the green light to head home.

Darrell said the reality of having four newborns is finally setting in.

“We’ve got maybe 24 bottles in cycle at a time,” said Darrell. “It’s quite a process. We’ve got a station set up.”

WATCH (Mar. 7, 2017): Between feeding, changing diapers and tidying up, a new parent’s work is never done. Now imagine multiplying those constant demands by four. That’s just an average day in the life of Tim and Bethani Webb. Laurel Gregory has more.

According to the 2017 Perinatal Report, Alberta has one of the highest rates of multiple births in the country. The study shows that number has stayed steady since 2009.

The report also estimated that around 100 sets of triplets and quadruplets are born each year in Canada.

Alberta quadruplets are obsessed with hugs and the internet is melting

Another set of four babies was born in Calgary to a Rocky Mountain House couple this year and the two families have been in touch.

“We’ve reached out to get opinions on things and it’s been helpful just knowing that there’s someone else that’s going through what we’ve gone through,” said Annie.

The Simms are headed back home to Fort McMurray and ready settle into their new life as a family of seven.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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How ‘passive homes’ are setting new green building standards, $2,000 cat door included


Sometimes being energy conscious can mean geeking out on gigawatts, or studying the latest heat exchanger technology. But in this case, it involved splurging on a $2,000 cat door.

The super-insulated, radio-frequency-controlled designer cat passageway is one of many energy saving features in a super energy efficient house being built in West Vancouver.

« I was in Austria at a passive house conference, and it was amazing seeing all these building products being built, » said home owner James Dean. « One was a cat door where you needed a certain insulation level, [it] needs to be airtight, and they have an actuator that opens the door for your cat. »

Dean and his wife Janet Allan shared a laugh over the pricey pet portal on a recent tour of the house.

Their nearly completed structure is what’s known as a « passive house, » a category designed to far exceed building codes when it comes to energy efficiency.

The pet door is just one sign of how far they were willing to go to achieve their goal.

Solar panels cover the roof of the West Vancouver home. (Submitted)

They are hoping their family of four can have basically a zero emission lifestyle when it comes to their home and local transportation.

Solar panels, batteries, a fleet of bicycles and an electric car in the garage complete the picture. 

Costing about $3 million to build, it’s not far out of line in pricey West Vancouver. James said he kept close watch on the extras and said it only cost about 4 per cent more than it would have to build a similar home that meets existing building codes.

« We’re going to be what’s called net zero energy, so we’ll generate more electricity over the year and sell it back to BC Hydro than we use, » said Dean.

Passive house construction challenges

The almost finished home is perched on a hill looking over the large freighters anchored in B.C’s Burrard Inlet.

It features European-made eleven foot high triple glazed windows, a high tech ventilation system, and of course, the electric cat door.

In some ways that door highlights one of the problems facing passive house proponents.

Because few are built, costs are higher for many components. For instance, the huge triple glazed windows had to be brought in from Europe because no one could supply them locally.

Some of the other touches are low tech, such as emphasis on the 40-centimetre-thick walls packed with insulation and the work to have every seam sealed.

« Putting in a more insulated and airtight envelope you really simplify the heating ventilation and air conditioning system so you reduce the amount of heating and cooling you need by 90 per cent, » said Dean.

Not essential, but this high tech $2,000 cat door keeps the passive house air tight. (Petwalk)

No one keeps track of how many passive houses there are across the country.

The Victoria-based organization Passive House Canada said there are at least 100 buildings that it knows of that meet the standard, including residential and commercial structures.

The group said that both Vancouver and Victoria have about one million square feet of floor space in passive buildings.

Zero emission doesn’t mean super expensive

Dean’s early pitch to build a passive home wasn’t initially embraced by his wife, Janet Allan. She thought photos of passive houses looked dark and uninviting.

« They’re very blocky with small windows, and I said our family’s not going to live in a house like that. He said it doesn’t have to be that way, let’s build a beautiful home. »

The result is bright and open. Floor to ceiling windows on one wall look out over the ocean.

Dean said going zero emission doesn’t mean being super expensive, especially over the long haul.

« We’ll basically pay nothing in heating and cooling for the house so we’ll get that back over a number of years. »

As pressure mounts to cut carbon emissions all levels of government are pushing ahead with higher energy standards. The goal is less fossil fuel fired heating across Canada.

Matt Horne is the climate policy manager for the City of Vancouver.

« The city has what’s called a zero emissions building plan, and that’s a roadmap out to 2030, so between 2025 and 2030, depending on the building type, all new construction would be zero emissions, » Horne said.

The new Canadian standard being proposed is not as strict as passive house, and is known as « net zero ready. »

Horne said in Vancouver, emissions from homes and businesses add up to about 55 per cent of the total produced, so they’re a focus for those writing building codes across the country.

Few builders are certified for passive home construction. (BCIT/Youtube)

Costs falling for efficient homes

That worries David Foster, a spokesperson for the Canadian Home Builders Association. He said higher upfront costs might never be recovered through lower energy bills.

« We need to make sure the industry is ready, the building science is solid, the economics are there for home buyers so they can afford to get into these houses. »

He points to past mistakes such as the west coast’s leaky condo crisis, where thousands of units rotted due to a mix of bad design and poor building quality as an example of the need for caution before bringing in widespread changes.

Foster said currently the cost of transforming a 2,000 square foot single family home constructed from the current building code to the proposed standard of « net zero ready » is about $30,000. Net zero ready is a step below the passive house in terms of efficiency.

Foster said costs to attain the net zero ready standard have fallen 50 per cent in the last ten years.

The Canadian Home Builders association says costs to construct ‘net zero ready’ homes have fallen 50 per cent in the past decade. (Greg Rasmussen/CBC)

Passive home pioneers

At the West Vancouver passive house, Shawn Barr, with Naikoon Contracting, the company building the home, said few builders are certified for this type of construction.

He said far more attention to detail is needed by all the trades involved.

« If you don’t have the trades, the guys you’re working with, if they’re not on board and all trying to strive to the same thing, it’s not going to be possible. Everybody’s got to care when you’re building a passive house. »

The hope is builders in the upper end of the market will learn techniques that filter down to cheaper properties as building codes increasingly stress the need to reduce emissions.

Home owner Dean said it’s partly about being a pioneer and showing others how to make better use of energy.

« Being the first it’s always takes a bit longer, costs more money, but as more people start to do it i think the costs come down and it’s going to be much more affordable. »

For Allan, it’s about creating a bright and livable home their kids can be proud of.

« Our boys are really excited about it and are growing up in an environment where they’re conscious of being energy efficient. »


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It will be a ‘low-carbon wedding’ — but will the bride wear green?


Elizabeth May heads into 2019 with hopes of gaining some new, Green Party company in the House of Commons by year’s end.

But May is already gaining some extra company in her personal life this year, even before the election. On Earth Day in April, the Green Party leader will marry John Kidder in a big wedding at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. Yes, May says, it will be a “low-carbon wedding.”

The two have known each other for years and have many mutual friends, but the romance and engagement happened in a whirlwind this fall. It’s the first marriage for May, 64, who has a daughter, Cate May Burton, and an extended family of stepchildren; it’s the second marriage for Kidder, who has three children and four grandchildren.

“I’m a happier person, that’s for sure,” May says. As for Kidder: “I’m energized. This has energized me,” he says.

When I spoke to May and Kidder for this column, they were happily soaking up some time in Sicily after attending international climate-change meetings in Poland earlier in December.

Kidder, 71, has been a tech entrepreneur and a Green Party candidate, and has a hops farm in Ashcroft, B.C. He bought the farm after the death of his wife in 2009, fleeing Vancouver for a quieter life. The next few years saw him shedding at least one other relationship too: Kidder abandoned the Liberal Party the day after Justin Trudeau entered the campaign for the leadership in 2012, disgusted with Trudeau’s open outreach to the oilsands industry in Alberta.

Trudeau has, however, wished the couple well. When May told him that she was dating the brother of Margot Kidder, who was romantically linked to Trudeau’s father in the early 1980s, the prime minister told her, “I loved Margot!”

This May-Kidder romance began, as some do in politics, at a political convention — the Green Party holding its big annual get-together in Vancouver at the end of September.

At dinner, Kidder was seated next to Sylvia Olsen, a good friend of May’s and the mother of Green Party MLA John Olsen, who represents roughly the same area as the national leader in the B.C. provincial legislature.

Sylvia Olsen had been urging May to find a man for several months before the convention, and had assigned herself the job of matchmaker. May was not entirely an enthusiastic proponent of this scheme. “About a couple of years ago, I’d decided it’s not worth having this delusional notion that I’m going to meet somebody. I have no time to date, no time to think about it,” she said.

But Olsen was sure she could find a good man for her friend. So when she was seated next to Kidder at the Green Party convention, the dinner turned into an interrogation — though Kidder seemed to enjoy it, and he definitely passed. Olsen wanted to make sure, for instance, that he didn’t have “ego issues.”

“Some of them were questions, some of them were statements,” he said of the interview.

Even before dinner had ended, Olsen ran over to the Green Party leader and reported she’d found the guy for May. When she told her who it was, May immediately brightened. She’d even told Kidder’s daughter at one point in the past that she had a “crush” on her father. That statement yielded zero in the way of contact, as Kidder was still getting over the death of his wife; they’d been together 32 years.

But this time, May and Kidder did connect. Kidder got May’s email address and the two spent the rest of the convention trying to snatch a few moments together, here and there in the corridors and the hotel coffee shop. They even posed for some photos together, with Kidder’s arm “chastely,” as he put it, across May’s shoulder. The Green Party leader joked that this was “rehearsal” for being a couple. Jokes aside, both came away from that convention knowing that something big was happening.

“It was so like high school, it was astonishing,” Kidder laughed.

They began to talk via email and then by telephone nearly every night. “John replaced Netflix in my life,” May said. “I used to finish work in Parliament around 11 or whatever and I’d go to my apartment to watch Netflix to fall asleep. Instead I started calling John. We’d talk for an hour.” Then they started to figure out how to fit in visits during May’s frenetic work schedule and travel.

After a few weeks, Kidder was convinced he was in this for the long term and decided to tell May so.

“Both of us had people telling us to go slowly now, this is risky territory. And my response was, I’m way too bloody old to go slow. That’s ridiculous,” he said. So Kidder asked May whether she’d heard of a planning technique called “future perfect,” in which you imagine an ideal situation and plan backward from there.

He wrote her an email, which he initially worried was too bold, but ultimately decided to send it anyway. “I suggested that we just operate on the working premise that we were going to be together forever,” Kidder said. “If things come up in the way, they’ll be like speed bumps rather than roadblocks or detours.”

That sealed it for May. She began to tell people (including this journalist) that she’d found a forever mate. “Yeah, I was pretty much toast, gone, after that,” she said.

Together, they started planning any occasion they could to see each other and by November, they were engaged. Kidder asked first by telephone and then made the proposal more formally in the Library of Parliament (naturally) in person in Ottawa.

Their life now is another whirlwind, trying to figure out how to plan a wedding and then an election campaign within the space of one year. Kidder isn’t sure he is going to run again as a candidate. He said he will be happy to help May whatever it requires, even “schlepping her bags,” and has joked with the Green Party office that his official title in the database can be “consort.”

They haven’t even worked out where they’ll live. Both divide their time already between two homes — May in her Saanich-Gulf Islands riding and at work in Ottawa; Kidder keeps a place in Vancouver as well as his farm in Ashcroft.

I asked May whether she thinks she’ll be a different kind of politician when she’s married, and what having Kidder by her side will do to her approach to politics.

“I am naturally a positive and happy person,” she said. “But I didn’t know what it was like to be really happy. This is the first really solid relationship I’ve ever known. I don’t know what kind of politician it will make me, but it definitely makes me a happier human being, which should translate into more energy and a better way of communicating a positive future.”

We won’t know until October whether that means more seats in the House for May, but we do know that she’s setting one more place at home in the meantime.

Susan Delacourt is the Star’s Ottawa bureau chief and a columnist covering national politics. Reach her via email: sdelacourt@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @susandelacourt


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Go green with your Christmas wrap — and we don’t mean the colour


All that twinkly, glittery garishness associated with Christmas wrapping makes for a flashy presentation but it’s most definitely not a gift to the environment, says Winnipeg-based Green Action Centre.

So while we’re dreaming of a white Christmas, we need to think more green, the group says.

« It’s quite crazy, actually, the statistics surrounding how how much waste we are sending to a landfill around the holidays, » said Bethany Daman, a co-ordinator at the centre, which develops and advocates for environmental policies for Manitoba communities.

« The stats that we have is approximately 550,000 tons of wrapping paper is thrown out, so it goes to the landfill, in Canada each year. »

That includes things like the shiny wrapping paper as well as the glossy gift bags and the tissue paper used to cover the gifts inside those bags, Daman said.

« All three of those items are not recyclable in Manitoba and the reason is they contain the glitter and they contain plastics, » she said.

« There’s coloured shapes in there mixed with wax, metal and clay content and some of it’s laminated, so there’s too many additives, making it difficult to recycle. »

Use plain paper that comes in rolls, like the brown kraft stuff used to wrap packages for shipping, and decorate it with string, leaves and twigs, says Environmental Defence, a Canadian environmental action organization. (Environmental Defence)

Maps are another colourful alternative for wrapping paper. (Green Action Centre)

The Green Action Centre tries to help people come up with alternatives that take the unnecessary glitz out of gift wrap.

« If you have a scarf or something, you can actually turn that into quite a beautiful wrapping piece. You can use the ends of the scarf to make a bit of a bow at the top, » Daman said.

« Or something that someone in our office is doing this year is using tea towels to wrap her gift. »

Other suggestions include using plain paper that comes in rolls, like the brown kraft stuff used to wrap packages for shipping.

Decorate it with stamps or markers or « get crafty and make your own embellishment from paper, string, leaves and twigs, » says Environmental Defence, a Canadian environmental action organization.

Or find old magazines and make a collage, Daman suggested.

« If there’s a little bit of glue, it’s going to be fine to put in the recycling after. As long as [you’re not using] glitter glue or an excessive amount of paper glue, that’s gonna be totally fine, » said Daman, and she agrees that markers and stamps are a great way to dress it up.

An excellent alternative to wrapping paper is fabric, which is reusable for years, says Anna-Marie Janzen, who runs the website Reclaim Mending. (Submitted by Anna-Marie Janzen/Reclaim Mending)

Fabric comes in many colours that can be as festive as glossy Christmas wrap, but lasts longer and is more friendly to the environment. (Submitted by Anna-Marie Janzen/Reclaim Mending)

Same with a little bit of brushwork. But only a bit.

« If you’re doing a bunch of painting on it, that’s not going to be OK to recycle, » she said.

Not only are these options better for the environment, they show the person getting the gift that there’s been a lot of thought put into it.

« I definitely think that that ends up being a more special way of presenting the gift as opposed to just going to the mall, picking something up, getting it wrapped and then just presenting it to them, » Daman said.

« It’s something that you remember for so much longer when you’re actually having that effort put in. »

Reclaimed fabrics also make for durable reusable gift bags. ( Anna-Marie Janzen/Reclaim Mending)

« If you have a scarf or something, you can actually turn that into quite a beautiful wrapping piece. You can use the ends of the scarf to make a bit of a bow at the top, » says Green Action Centre’s Bethany Daman. (Green Action Centre)

Reusing newspapers is another inexpensive, easy and green alternative. Flyers advertising Christmas sales can make a colourful substitute for traditional wrap.

If wrapping isn’t your preference, an option is to get reusable cloth Christmas bags, Daman said.

« They have holiday designs on them and a lot of them are made from reclaimed material, so you can just use that bag over and over again from year to year and you can buy them in a variety of sizes. »

Substitutes can even be found for the tissue paper, said Daman, who recently put together a gift for a friend who likes cycling.

Most coloured, glossy paper cannot be recycled because of the inks and other additives. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

Like the shiny Christmas wrap, these types of gift bags cannot be recycled, but you can reuse them to extend their life and keep them out of the landfill as long as possible. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

« I took an old cycling map and I used that as tissue paper in the reusable shopping bag. It was something that was going to get recycled anyway because it was an outdated map, but I was able to use that in a creative way that also reflected something of the person, » she said.

If you happen to be on the receiving end of a glossy gift bag, the best way to contribute to the environment is to save it and get as many additional uses out of it as possible before it goes to the landfill, Daman said.

Same goes for the wrap, said Rachel Kitchin of Environmental Defence.

« If your parents and grandparents are anything like mine, they probably also save all their wrapping paper and carefully fold it up to be reused next year. This might seem old fashioned, but it’s actually a great attitude that we could all use a little more of. »

While recycling is important, reusing is better, « because an endless stream of recycling isn’t sustainable, » Daman said.

« There’s still resources going into processing that recycling, so we have to think about always reusing what we have and then finding a recyclable alternative. »‘

And in the end, that’s a present to everyone.

« A sustainable gift is a gift to future generations and if we’re thinking about the future, we’re thinking about the Earth, » said Daman.


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Class action over video lottery terminals gets green light in Newfoundland


An intriguing court case that alleges Crown-owned video lottery terminals are inherently deceptive and violate the Criminal Code has reached a critical milestone in Newfoundland and Labrador.

And the outcome of the case could have implications for VLT gaming across Canada.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal has cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit to go ahead, rejecting arguments for dismissal from the Atlantic Lottery Corp., which operates in all four Atlantic provinces.

READ: Nova Scotia in tax fight with federal government over lottery terminals on reserves

“VLTs are inherently deceptive, inherently addictive and inherently dangerous when used as intended,” says a statement of claim filed in 2012. The lawsuit was certified as a class action in early 2017.

Among other things, it alleges VLTs should be considered illegal because they don’t fit the Criminal Code definitions for slot machines, fair games of chance or lottery schemes.

More importantly, the plaintiffs allege VLTs more closely resemble a gambling card game known as three-card monte, which at first glance appears to be a straight-forward test of tracking one of three cards as they are moved about.

The lawsuit argues the sleight-of-hand tricks used in this con game are not unlike the manipulative electronic programming VLTs use to create “cognitive distortions” about the perception of winning.

Toronto-based lawyer Kirk Baert, who represents plaintiffs Douglas Babstock and Fred Small, said the appeal court accepted that as a potential legal argument.

“The point of having this provision in the Criminal Code … was to prevent people from being deceived by charlatans and tricksters who use sleight-of-hand to make people lose their money,” Baert said in an interview.

“Our point is that technology has evolved, and this is just the same thing – but it’s being done through a machine instead of a human being at a table or at a carnival.”

WATCH: AG report puts spotlight on gambling awareness agency

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

The Atlantic Lottery Corp. has insisted the highly regulated electronic games are decided only by chance.

In its ruling last week, the appeal court effectively rejected the plaintiffs’ claims that the use of VLTs violate the federal Competition Act and a British law from 1710 known as the Statute of Anne, which was aimed at preventing deceitful gaming but fell into disuse.

The corporation has yet to say whether it will seek an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Aside from Babstock and Small, who are both retirees, those included in the class action are as many as 30,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador who paid the lottery corporation to gamble on VLT games any time after April 2006.

The lawsuit is seeking damages equal to the alleged unlawful gain obtained by the corporation through VLT revenue.

As well, the plaintiffs are seeking an injunction that would bar the corporation from using VLTs, based on the assertion that the terminals do not constitute a permitted lottery under federal law.

If the lawsuit is successful, similar claims could be filed across Canada.

READ MORE: NS gambling revenues jump 2 years after prevention program cancelled

Citing a third-party study, the lawsuit says the odds of winning the $500 maximum prize from a VLT in Newfoundland and Labrador are roughly 270,000 to 1, which would mean a long-term player would likely lose about $30,000 before hitting the jackpot.

The statement of claim goes on to allege VLTs employ what is called “subliminal priming” to induce players to hyper-focus “and to create a dangerous dissociative mental state, wherein players cannot make rational decisions to continue to play or not.”

The goal is to leave players “mesmerized,” in the same way those duped by the three-card monte ruse can hardly believe their eyes, Baert said.

“It’s predetermined that you will lose,” he said. “The more you play, the more you lose.”


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