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2 entries from December 2017

Holiday Lights on Winter Nights


One of my favourite things about this season are the lighting displays that go up around town. I love the white lights on the bare branches down Commercial Drive and our neighbour who has her balcony covered in glittering purple lights. There’s a fellow a few blocks from our place whose yard is a wonderland of illuminated, inflatable Santas, penguins and snowmen. Every time you drive by, you can’t help but smile.

Tonight is Winter Solstice – the longest night of the year. Lots of time to enjoy a holiday light display near you! Here are some links to help you do a little planning:

For several years now, The Halifax Chronicle Herald has built a user-generated map of places to go "light-seeing" all over the province. Check out the 2017 Nova Scotia Holiday Lights map

Most of Old Québec is a light-lovers wonderland over the holidays, with heritage buildings and shopping areas all lit up for the season

This year marks the 35th season of the Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls! This 8km trail of illumination is on until the end of January.

If you’re looking for something more walkable, Upper Canada Village’s 1km Alight at Night Festival trail boasts almost a million lights.

In Winnipeg, check out the province’s largest drive-through light show, Canad Inn’s Winter Wonderland. Over a million lights along a 2.5km route – plus you can buy delicious holiday snacks on site to enjoy on the drive!

In Lethbridge, the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is holding its second annual Winter Lights Festival, with over 100,000 lights illuminating this beautiful garden.

If you’re near Vancouver, the Capilano Suspension Bridge has an amazing lights display called Canyon Lights.  This year, eight 250 year old Douglas fir trees will be lit up, reaching up to 110 feet from the ground below. They’ll be the tallest Christmas trees in the world!

Here’s a listing of the holidays light displays in each of our province’s capitals, from coast to coast to coast.

Have you been out to see the lights this season? Where’s your favourite place to go? Let us know in the comments.

- Rose R.

Are you ready for congestion pricing?


Canada is a nation of commuters. According to just released numbers from the 2016 Census, 15.9 million of us commute to work - an increase of 30.3% since 1996. Interestingly, our way of getting to work is changing: from 1996 to 2016, the number of commuters taking public transit grew by 59.5%, while those using a car increased by 28.3%

Most (if not all) major metropolitan areas in Canada are creating their own plans to deal with the increase in urbanization and commuters that their cities see. Increasing public transit, focusing on more walkable neighbourhoods, prioritizing bike lanes - these are all part of any given city's transportation planning.

Over the last year, congestion pricing (a system of tolls or fees that drivers will have to pay to drive in certain areas at certain times) is an additional component of urban transportation planning that is gaining traction in Canada's major cities. Congestion pricing can include a variety of factors in a given area, including: access tolls for drivers to a city centre, high-occupancy toll lanes, distance traveled charges and variable parking pricing. Congestion pricing is meant to encourage commuters to consider using public transit, carpooling or other methods of travel in cities during peak hours.

Canada's Ecofiscal Commission (a group of policy-minded economists from across Canada, seeking to broaden the discussion of ecofiscal policy reform beyond the academic sphere and into the realm of practical policy application) released a Report on Traffic and Congestion Pricing in November 2015 and have been updating on initiatives across the country.

Ecofiscal also has a fun and informative video series "Stuck in Traffic with an Economist" which highlights the different congestion problems of four major cities in Canada.

What's your commute like? Would you be in favour of congestion pricing?

Disclosure: Steve Williams, Suncor's CEO, is on the advisory board to Ecofiscal's Commissioners and Suncor Energy provides support to Ecofiscal. 

- Rose R.