Halifax gets a C+ on its environmental report card

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Maggie Ivimey and Cameron Yetman presenting the report card Photo by Thomas Cobbett Labonté

Originally published on Feb. 3, 2017 at http://signalhfx.ca/halifax-gets-a-c-on-its-environmental-report-card/

Like an underachieving teenager, Halifax has received a C+ on its environmental report card.

The report card was organized by iMatter Halifax and presented by one of its members, Cameron Yetman, and the head of the environmental committee at Halifax West High School, Maggie Ivimey. They presented it to the Environment and Sustainability Committee at City Hall on Thursday.

iMatter Youth Movement was created in the United States and gives tools to young climate activists who want to start start conversations about climate change and advocate for solutions on the local level.

“This is important to me because I was born here and lived here for my entire life. Halifax is my home,” said Yetman to the committee.

Each Youth Climate Change Report Card, which as been given out by iMatter representatives in cities like Des Moines and Toronto, is based on municipal data found in public records and reports. The data is then put together using a template created by climate scientist and former NASA researcher Dr. Jim Hansen. Communities are graded on their efforts in five categories: a zero-emissions climate action plan; renewable energy programs; waste management; carbon removal; and youth involvement.

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Cameron Yetman and Lilly Barraclough, iMatter Halifax Photo by Thomas Cobbett Labonté

The first and most heavily-weighted category – which made up 50 per cent of the final grade – was for having a “climate action plan” that guarantees zero or net zero emissions by 2040. The municipality received a C- in this field because they do not currently have a zero-emissions plan.

iMatter says in the report card that “reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the most important step to address the climate crisis” and will have the most impact on future generations.

“You may not see the worst of the effect in your lifetime, but I will and my kids will,” said Ivimey to the committee.

The grades weren’t all bad, however. The report card praised the municipality’s efforts in waste management, especially for giving Haligonians various ways to dispose of waste and gave HRM an A+.

The subject that got the most response from councillors was the last category, youth involvement. Halifax did not get a grade because it does not “have any youth formally involved in the process of creating and executing climate related policies and actions,” the report card said.

That is one of the reasons Yetman decided to get involved with iMatter in the first place. Yetman is a first-year student at the University of King’s College and decided to join when he heard about it on campus.

“I have a lot of living and growing up to do here,” he says to the committee. “The environmental future that is decided by us now is the one I am going to live for the rest of my life.”

Richard Zurawski of District 12, who is also Yetman’s councillor, says he was very impressed with Yetman and Ivimey, and invited them both to have a coffee together in the future.

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Cameron Yetman and Maggie Ivimey in front of the council Photo by Thomas Cobbett Labonté

“Without youth looking at the future, I’m becoming one of those people losing faith in our ability to manifest a change,” said Zurawski. “You coming in with your group gives me enormous hope. And my door is always open.”

Councillor Bill Karsten was also concerned to hear about the lack of youth involvement in policy making. He says he will commit to looking into having a youth council that would be associated with the community council. “That’s a commitment that I give to you,” he said. “I will look to find a way to reengaging the youth.”

C+ might give the impression that Halifax is doing a terrible job in terms of being ecofriendly, but Yetman says the report card is meant to be tough.

“The final grade is a C+. A C+ is not bad of course, higher than many cities that have been graded,” said Yetman to the committee. “Unfortunately, it’s not quite as high as it could be. And in our current climate crisis, the planet stubbornly refuses to offer retests.”

Halifax video game developer on quest to create Zelda-inspired game

Originally published at http://signalhfx.ca/halifax-video-game-developer-on-quest-to-create-zelda-inspired-game/ on NOVEMBER 22, 2016

The independent video game community in Halifax is up and coming due, in no small part to Dalarna, a small county in the middle of Sweden.

That is where Andrew Shouldice, a Halifax independent video game developer, spent two months of his summer participating in the accelerator program Stugan.

 

While living in a remote cabin in the Swedish countryside, Shouldice got to work on his game surrounded by like-minded people while rediscovering the importance of having the support of a community.

Being part of a strong community isn’t anything new to Shouldice.

Around 2014, with the help of his friend Ben Swinden, he helped create the Halifax Game Collective.

“I got the idea after attending [a similar event] in Montreal.”

Shouldice was impressed with the strength of the video game community in Montreal and the effect it was having on the video game scene.

“We want to build Halifax into a Neo-Montreal,” says Shouldice, helping to build a city where independent video game development is supported by its community.

Shouldice always dreamed of becoming an independent video game developer. He had made a few small projects before, but was itching to have a major release under his name.

“At a certain point I thought if I’m going to do this indie thing, I am going to pull this trigger at some point.”

A year later, in the spring of 2015, Shouldice decided to quit his job at Silverback Games to start working on Secret Legend, his first major video game.

He had long thought about taking the plunge and branching out on his own to develop a game and finally decided to take his chance with a Zelda-inspired action-adventure game.

Adapting from working in a big studio to working alone on a big project was tough. Even if it can be very empowering to be in total control of your creative project, having to structure your own time, discipline yourself and having no support from coworkers is always a challenge.

A year passed, and Shouldice was still having trouble making progress with his game.

That’s when his friend Robin Baumgarten told him he had to go and participate in the Stugan program.

Stugan is a non-profit accelerator program for young independent video game developers.

Around 20 developers from around the world get chosen every year and move to a secluded wooden cabin in Dalarna and work on their projects for two months.

“Robin was right. It was one of the best experiences of my life,” says Shouldice.

While surrounded by other young independent video game developers, Shouldice found the help and support he had needed all that time.

Back from Stugan, Shouldice is a lot more confident about Secret Legend and hopes to release the game around the end of 2017.

It has also invigorated his involvement with the Halifax Game Collective.

Having had the help and support to assist him on his way, Shouldice wants to make sure there is a community of people that can do the same for other independent video game developers.