Civic Vote 2011: Candidate runs a green campaign – Times Colinists

Times Colonist – October 9th

Victoria Coun. Philippe Lucas will run what he believes will be the first local carbon-neutral municipal campaign in his bid for re-election next month.

Between lawn signs, brochures and travel, traditional election campaigns can create a pretty large environmental footprint, said Lucas, who ran under the Green Party banner in 2008.

He considered and rejected the notion of trying to run a paperless campaign, using only social media.

“But, ultimately, with the voter turnout the way it is, I just didn’t feel it was realistic for me not to try to get my message out as effectively as possible. I decided a paperless campaign was not going to be viable with the low voter turnout we have. I really want to energize the public and get them involved,” Lucas said.

He teamed up with Jill Doucette, of Synergy Enterprises, to analyze and offset the carbon footprint of his re-election campaign. Lucas plans to purchase carbon offsets to cover the costs.

He estimates his re-election campaign will cost about $6,200 and the cost of carbon offsets a fraction of that – less than $1,000.

In the last federal election, the only major party not to buy carbon offsets was the Conservatives. The Liberals, New Democrats, Greens and Bloc Québécois all bought offsets for their campaign tours.

– Cairine Green, who is running for Oak Bay council, is going hightech in her campaign signs and brochures in a bid to reduce use of paper. Green’s campaign info will all have a quick response bar code on them – a two-dimensional geometric bar code that takes anyone with a smartphone directly to her website.

Green has been a North Saanich councillor for the past six years but moved to Oak Bay last year. She credits her son Matt, an IT professional, for coming up with the idea, but Green has been keen on the use of technology and social media to community for years.

She was one of the first councillors to run a blog – she started four years ago – and was instrumental in North Saanich becoming the first municipality in the region to have its public meetings streamed within 24 hours on the town’s website.

– Think municipal elections aren’t that important, that it doesn’t really matter who decides what your tax rates are or how often your garbage is collected? UVic professor Michael Prince has a different view that he’ll share on Saturday.

Prince, UVic’s Lansdowne professor of social policy, is a keynote speaker at a public forum hosted by the Saanich Civic League. Only 19 per cent of eligible Saanich voters cast their ballots in the 2008 municipal election, the fifth lowest in the province.

The civic league formed shortly after that, to try and increase interest in local politics and encourage to people to vote. Prince said he will “outline the importance of the municipal government to communities and the value of civic involvement in building strong neighbourhoods.”

Other panellists are local organic gardener Elmarie Roberts, from Haliburton Farm, who will talk about food security, and Jams van Hemert, an urban planner and author. Van Hemert will talk about sustainable growth in a rural-urban community such as Saanich.

The forum called “The Future is Local: Make Your Vote Count Now!” runs from 1 to 4: 30 p.m. in the Michele Pujol room at UVic’s student union building. bcleverley@timescolonist.com kwestad@timescolonist.com

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