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Sustainable student living project to launch in Fall 2014

A MORE house will be converted to a sustainable living space beginning in Fall 2014, according to a report on the ECOLE project presented at SSMU Council last Thursday.

Councillor Courtney Ayukawa and former McGill student Lily Schwarzbaum, coordinators of the project, gave a presentation which outlined the history, outlook, and timeline of progress of the project. The house will be located in the Milton-Parc community and is financially backed by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU). The project plans to transform a current student residence into a sustainable living space for eight to ten undergraduate student facilitators, who will be determined through an application process that has not yet been released.

Various sustainable living practices will be developed in an exploratory manner, and specific examples will become clear once facilitators of the project are hired in January.

“Examples of things that we are likely to explore include composting, collective living, anti-oppressive practices, [and] vegetarian/vegan diets and meals,” Ayukawa wrote.

The two-story house will have communal spaces on the ground floor and rooms for facilitators on the second floor.

According to Ayukawa, the project will provide the key mechanisms required for developing an example of sustainability in the community.

“We’re providing the physical space for it which does not currently exist; we’re offering resources for this house, and [we’re] bringing together people who are interested in sustainability,” Ayukawa said.

Each student facilitator will be responsible for engaging with the community and developing an independent study project on their sustainable lifestyle. Rent for the facilitators will amount to approximately $400 per month, which will be subsidized due to their additional responsibilities.

Along with SSMU, other stakeholders in the project include McGill’s Office of Sustainability (MOOS) and Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS).

“MOOS and SHHS have provided us with a lot of support and acted in an advisory-like role,” Ayukawa said.

The house is located right across from the university and houses the residential Green Living Learning Community, which, according to McGill’s housing website, is an environment where “residents work together on sustainability projects and participate in environmental programs with various organizations throughout Montreal.”


Milton bike gates

Council also passed a motion regarding the recently installed bike gates located at the Milton-University intersection. The motion opposes the presence of the gates and is similar to one recently passed by the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS). The SSMU motion, opposes the gates, pledges to send a letter to the administration, and resolves to explore alternative means of designating space for bicycles on campus.

“We’re opposing the construction of the gates on the grounds that they did not consult students [and] they did not consult the Office of Student Disabilities, who have expressed the concern that the gates are built assuming that everyone is a [tall, able-bodied] person,” Claire Stewart-Kanigan, Arts senator, said.

AUS President Justin Fletcher said the gates have not fulfilled the purpose for which they were installed, since individuals still ride their bikes on campus.

“You can either bike through the gates, which means they don’t do anything, or you can bike right up to the gates, get off your bike, and get right back on,” Fletcher said. “These gates do not solve the problem that they wish to rectify.”

The gates were installed last summer to encourage members of the McGill community to walk their bikes on campus.

Councillor David Benrimoh said he ran a survey for his constituents in the Faculty of Medicine, and found that 54 per cent of respondents opposed the gates. He also received feedback with regards to alternative strategies for reducing accidents or near-accident between bicyclists and pedestrians on campus.

“One thing that kept coming up, over and over again was [the suggestion of] bike lanes,” he said.

The motion passed with overwhelming support.

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