Graeme Stewart-Robertson

A Maritime NGO in Poland

“Call me Isaiah,” the man from Uganda said. A laugh broke out and what had been a faint glint in his eye turned to a roaring smile as we swapped stories of our homelands. 

“You have all that snow and you truck it away? All that freshwater, such a waste,” he says as I explain how our Spring floods can impact farmers and residents along the Wolastoq and in our cities. “You are so blessed,” he tells me, “and it must cost so much and use so much fuel, to discard what many of us need.” 

He is right, yet we all have unique challenges to share, just as one person’s curse is another’s blessing. One thought that enters my head is undeniable in its resolution: it is through our gathering and acknowledging of these perspectives that advances will be made, and that meaningful transformation will take place.

Therein lies the power of a gathering such as the United Nations, for despite the sea of acronyms, the rigid diplomatic protocols, and the overwhelming size of the institutions within it, where else can you have these interactions, and discuss them with requisite intelligence and wit while a thousand other conversations like it take place all around you. This was my experience in Katowice, Poland this past week, as I joined ten thousand others from across the planet for COP24, this year’s UN Climate Change Conference. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing a few of my stories and thoughts from my role as Observer and Delegate at this global Conference of the Parties, how the decisions made there will impact New Brunswick, and what we can all do to forge a dialogue of understanding, much as the one described above between yours truly and my new friend from Uganda. 

“I would love to visit Canada some day, it sounds beautiful,” my friend says, “you have so much space, it must be something.”

With a final roar of laughter he proclaims, “Just maybe not when there is all that snow!”

Employment Opportunity - Climate Change Adaptation Planner

Project Background

The City of Saint John, New Brunswick is challenged by ongoing social and environmental inequity whereby areas the most severe poverty rates in Canada are those in closest proximity to both highly vulnerable coastal areas and the region's commercial and economic core. In response to these challenges, ACAP Saint John has built upon its role as a leading environmental incubator in Atlantic Canada to secure support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities [FCM] to develop a design-focused Climate Change Adaptation Feasibility Study for the three urban neighbourhoods of Saint John, as well as to create a city-wide Climate Change Adaption Plan. Working in a community defined by its oceans and waterways, ACAP Saint John’s work will pursue innovative adaptations to climate change, to identify best practices for stormwater management and to execute infrastructure investments that will enable community members to participate in bringing positive change to our shared environmental future.

Job Description

Thanks to this exciting new initiative, ACAP Saint John is seeking an energetic, self-motivated individual to join our team! The ideal candidate would be flexible in their working schedule, be able to work within a team, have excellent communication skills and be highly organized. The primary role of the Climate Change Adaptation Planner would be to lead the development of the design-focused Climate Change Adaptation Feasibility Study and a municipal Climate Change Adaptation Plan to decrease vulnerability and increase community resiliency to changing climate conditions and extreme weather. Research, analysis, management, and dissemination of data and information to assist in developing the Adaptation Plan will include, but not be limited to:

  • Understanding other relevant climate adaptation plans and strategies;
  • Seeking appropriate technical expertise when needed;
  • Assessing regional and local vulnerabilities and risks;
  • Evaluating which actions have the greatest potential to effectively reduce risk;
  • Identifying priorities, timing considerations and resource needs;
  • Considering roles and responsibilities for implementation,
  • Act as a regional resource to municipalities and provide technical support regarding risks, vulnerabilities, and adaptation/mitigation actions and programs;
  • Develop new partnerships with academic, government and private sector organizations and agencies to collect, organize and analyze qualitative and quantitative data pertaining to the climate change impacts and adaptation;
  • Seek funding/project opportunities and develop funding and grant proposals as required to support the development and implementation of the Adaptation Plan;
  • Assist with development and implementation of communication plans to provide information to the community regarding the Adaptation Plan; and,
  • Keep current on climate change and energy related Provincial and Federal legislation, policies, and programs and the effect on regional and municipal adaptation and mitigation activities.

ACAP Saint John is open and collaborative. The prospective Climate Change Adaptation Planner must work effectively and respectfully, continually enhancing the work of project partners, ACAP Saint John staff, and community stakeholders. The chosen candidate will bring their skills and expertise to bear on the project, developing innovative responses to the city’s most vexing challenges and pushing for creative thinking. Together with ACAP Saint John staff, project partners, and community stakeholders, we will work to create unique design solutions that generate systemic and meaningful change for Saint John’s environment. The work will also be dynamic, and could include elements of ACAP Saint John's on-going projects and the selected candidate will also support on-going organizational social media initiatives.

Qualifications

  • An accredited post-secondary degree or diploma in Urban Planning, Environmental Planning, or a related field;
  • Experience with Geographic Information System [GIS] software;
  • Interest, and at least some formal training, in environmental programs and/or watershed management; 
  • Ability to safely work outdoors in all weather conditions;
  • Positive attitude and ability to work closely and collaboratively with staff, volunteers, and external stakeholders; and a,
  • Motivated self-starter who is able to work independently.

Assets

  • Knowledge of and passion for the issues and challenges facing non-profit organizations;
  • Experience with image manipulation, graphics design or rendering;
  • Strong writing and reporting skills, including proposal writing and record-keeping;
  • Professional or academic knowledge of the natural environment and/or physical geography of Atlantic Canada;
  • Fluency in both French and English;
  • Passion for environmental stewardship, conservation and restoration; and,
  • Communications skills for interaction with community volunteers of all demographic backgrounds.

Additional Information

The advertised position is for a full-time position, to commence in January of 2018.

ACAP Saint John is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome diversity in the workplace and encourage applications from all candidates including, but not limited to, women, non-cisgendered individuals, members of visible minority populations, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples. 

About ACAP Saint John

For over twenty-five years, ACAP has conducted successful in-school environmental education programs, summer camps, ecological inventories, water quality monitoring programs, habitat restorations, watercourse restorations, wetland enhancements, contaminated site remediation, green space planning, and engaged thousands of area residents in community cleanup initiatives. ACAP Saint John has an excellent reputation in the community for acting as a third-party mediator of contentious environmental issues, and continues to expand their role as a public source of knowledge and information dissemination. We continue to affect long-term planning for greening and revitalization in Saint John by offering our expertise and our research outcomes to levels of government, corporations and institutions throughout the region. 

In 2016, ACAP Saint John renewed its focus on growing the restorative development potential of Greater Saint John, on issues of Climate Change adaptation, on restoring and conserving our invaluable ecological habitats, on building our community’s scientific knowledge base and on redefining how urban green spaces are preserved and enjoyed while fostering inclusive environments. 

At its heart, ACAP has always been an environmental incubator, one that transforms and evolves our region’s landscapes with the help of governments, companies and community collaborators. Our work is designed to be seen, felt and experienced throughout the environment – from our wetlands and coastlines to our streets and public spaces.

How to Apply

Please submit your cover letter and resume by December 15, 2017 to executivedirector at acapsj.org * with the subject line, "Climate Change Adaptation Planner" - only those short-listed for an interview will be contacted.

*Note: The e-mail address above has been masked to help prevent spam. Please copy the address and replace “at” with @.

Employment Opportunity - Saint John River Datashed Coordinator

project logo - acap side by side.jpg

As part of its role as a leading environmental incubator in Atlantic Canada, ACAP Saint John is advancing a new collaborative Geographic Information System [GIS] program to increase stakeholder and rightsholder capacity for mapping, spatial data collection and public communication across the Bay of Fundy and Saint John River [Wolastoq] watershed.

The program will see a GIS/data analyst employed within the ACAP Saint John office who would be available on an ad hoc basis to assist on mapping projects, train users, to standardize and analyze datasets, and to produce mapping products with the goal of fostering collaboration toward an integrated approach to watershed management in New Brunswick.


Job Description

Thanks to this exciting new initiative, ACAP Saint John is seeking an energetic, self-motivated individual to join our team! The ideal candidate would be flexible in their working schedule, be able to work within a team, have excellent communication skills and be highly organized. The primary role of the Saint John River Datashed Coordinator will be to provide technical services including GIS data organization and management, geo-processing, mapping, database creation and maintenance, LiDAR processing, along with asessing drone imagery and DEMs. Attention to detail, the ability to adhere to deadlines and Geographic Information Systems, image and data processing experience are a must, along with a passion for finding collaborative solutions to large-scale environmental challenges.

The work will be dynamic, and could also include elements of ACAP Saint John's on-going projects including: Datashed promotion and adoption, environmental education and outreach, liaising and coordinating with partner conservation organizations/partners, managing datasets for the Saint John Harbour Environmental Monitoring Partnership [SJH-EMP], writing and proofing proposals, liaising with stakeholders and rights-holders, and site visits to Datashed partners. While this is a collaborative position, the Saint John River Datashed Coordinator will report directly to ACAP Saint John's Executive Director and be first and foremost responsible for in-house data management and mapping. The selected candidate will also support ACAP Saint John with its social media initiatives.

Qualifications

  • An accredited post-secondary degree or diploma in GIS (or related field);
  • Experience with field projects and collecting environmental data;
  • Interest, and at least some formal training, in environmental programs and/or watershed management; 
  • Ability to safely work outdoors in all weather conditions;
  • Positive attitude and ability to work closely and collaboratively with staff, volunteers, and external stakeholders; and a,
  • Motivated self-starter who is able to work independently.

Assets

  • Knowledge of and passion for the issues and challenges facing non-profit organizations;
  • Experience studying Cumulative Effects and work with large databases;
  • Strong writing and reporting skills, including proposal writing and record-keeping;
  • Professional or academic knowledge of the natural environment and/or physical geography of New Brunswick;
  • Fluency in both French and English;
  • Passion for environmental education, conservation and restoration; and,
  • Communications skills for interaction with community volunteers of all demographic backgrounds.

Due to program funding requirements, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Intend to lead an environmental career related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics;
  • 30 years of age or younger;
  • Canadian citizen, landed immigrant, or refugee status;
  • Eligible to work in Canada;
  • Graduated from a post-secondary institution;
  • Unemployed or underemployed.

Additional Information

The advertised position is for a twelve month term  [at 40 hours per week], beginning in June, 2017.

ACAP Saint John is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome diversity in the workplace and encourage applications from all qualified candidates including women, members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples. 

About ACAP Saint John

For over twenty-five years, ACAP Saint John has conducted successful in-school environmental education programs, summer camps, ecological inventories, water quality monitoring programs, habitat restorations, watercourse restorations, wetland enhancements, contaminated site remediation and engaged thousands of area residents in community cleanup initiatives. ACAP Saint John has an excellent reputation in the community for acting as a third party mediator on contentious environmental issues, and continues to expand their role as a public source of knowledge and information dissemination.

At its heart, ACAP Saint John is an environmental incubator, one that transforms and evolves our region’s landscapes with the help of governments, companies and community collaborators. Our work is designed to be seen, felt and experienced throughout the environment – from our wetlands and coastlines to our streets and public spaces.

How to Apply

Please submit your cover letter and resume by May 15, 2017 to executivedirector at acapsj.org * with the subject line, "Datashed Coordinator" - only those short-listed for an interview will be contacted.

*Note: The e-mail address above has been masked to help prevent spam. Please copy the address and replace “at” with @.

Schools, Climate and Our Changing Province

“The role of the provincial government is critically important. It must provide the leadership and model the behaviour and actions needed to ensure sustained and ambitious actions to address the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change.” (New Brunswick Climate Change Action Plan, 2016) 

Current discussions between communities and the Anglophone South District Education Council regarding school closures in Saint John have yet to consider climate change as a significant factor in the upcoming decisionmaking on neighbourhood schools. Our ability as a City, and as communities, to mitigate the impacts of climate change and adapt into the future is intrinsically tied to our schools which act as community hubs not only for education but also for capacity building and community resilience. 


In late 2016, the Government of New Brunswick released its Climate Change Action Plan which is “supported by actions to build resilience into our communities, businesses, infrastructure and natural resources.” (p. 4) The following actions from the New Brunswick Climate Change Action Plan directly relate to the placement or site selection of schools in New Brunswick:

Action #18: In urban areas, and where possible elsewhere, preferentially locate public buildings in areas accessible by public transit, walking and cycling (p. 7)
Action #25: Engage with municipalities and regional service commissions to encourage actions at the community planning and local development stages that include strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation, smart growth and brownfield and infill development (p. 8)
Action #50: Collaborate with municipal and local governments to expand cleaner alternative transportation options such as electric vehicles, public transit, carpooling, ride-sharing, bicycling and walking (p. 13)
Action #62: Encourage community and regional land-use planning practices that incorporate energy efficiency, energy conservation, carbon sequestration, reduced emissions, support healthy built environments and which incorporate and encourage communities to improve the availability and accessibility of safe alternative forms of transportation such as walking, cycling and public transit (p. 15)
Action #63: Provide incentives to promote smart growth (natural infrastructure, green buildings, low-impact developments) and sustainable community design. (p.15)


These action items give the province a unique opportunity to take leadership on climate change by ensuring that schools remain in neighbourhoods wherein children already walk or cycle to school, limiting their family’s dependence on automobiles and fostering a sense of community in our youngest citizens as they interact daily with their community and surrounding environment. Lifestyle behaviours learned by children, including using sustainable modes of transportation, will influence future behaviour as these younger generations deal with increasing impacts from climate change.


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, schools profoundly affect the communities they serve and should follow smart growth principles; they should always be placed within walking distance of residents and neighbourhood services to reduce traffic congestion, support existing communities and facilities, reduce pollution, and preserve open space. 

Action #33(c): Expanded capacity and programs to support low-income New Brunswickers (p. 11)

The schools proposed to be closed are located in priority neighbourhoods of Saint John where there are high concentrations of low-income families. Climate change impacts and extreme weather events disproportionately affect low-income households due to a lack of resources and services to deal with impacts. Schools can provide information, shelter, and community support for socially vulnerable people in dealing with extreme weather events. Furthermore, closure of schools within walking distance for students disproportionately affects families who cannot or choose not to rely on driving a vehicle. Schools that offer more transportation choices have been shown to reduce the amount of land that is paved, reduce automobile and bus traffic, allowing for reductions in air pollution while also promoting increased active transportation use.


In addition, the potential relocation of a school to the fringes of a community can contribute to outward migration from its core, which can cause disinvestment in existing neighbourhoods and contribute to generational poverty cycles and widening gaps in its capacity for adaptation and mobility. School siting policies that discourage renovation or expansion of existing schools and favor building larger new schools can induce traffic congestion, increase fossil fuel emissions and consumption, reduce the proportion of students walking and biking to school, and contribute to disinvestment in existing neighborhoods. This disinvestment further contributes to the physical, social and economic decline seen in many neighborhoods where a large percentage of low-income, minority or traditionally marginalized populations live. 


While the decisions faced by the Anglophone South District Education Council are by no means straightforward, and require careful consideration across our communities, it is important to understand and acknowledge the ramifications of school site selections on climate adaptation, the health of our environment and our city’s success in driving sustainable urban growth. The short term costs of maintaining critical infrastructure such as schools in existing urban neighbourhoods can be part of a long-term community revitalization effort and serve as an impetus for broader revitalization efforts. Our community’s future is directly tied to our success adapting to the challenges posed by global climate change, and while no single action will make or break that future, we must work together to consider our collective impact and the role we each play in making Saint John a champion of resiliency and smart growth.



References

Employment Opportunity

This position has been filled.

Job Description

The Urban Ecology Coordinator will be a key member of the ACAP Saint John team and will carry out a range of environmental work associated with (but not limited to) the prioritization, protection and management of watershed lands, watercourses, urban greenways and wetlands throughout Greater Saint John, as well as contributing to on-going partnerships, education, outreach and communication initiatives associated with ACAP Saint John's mission and goals. 

The work will be dynamic, and will include all elements of ACAP Saint John's current projects including: program goals, program promotion, environmental education and outreach, GIS‐based prioritization to identify future projects, in-stream habitat remediation and fish rescue operations, liaising and coordinating with partner conservation organizations/partners, fostering the growth of the Saint John Harbour Environmental Monitoring Partnership [SJH-EMP], decision‐making and developing strategies to advance ACAP programs, writing and proofing proposals, liaising with stakeholders and rights holders, site visits to evaluate potential environmental challenges and volunteer program planning and management. The Urban Ecology Coordinator will also support ACAP Saint John with its social media initiatives and education program.

The Coordinator is expected to work cooperatively in a team‐based workplace, yet with a high degree of independence and self‐direction. The Coordinator will report to the Executive Director.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in a natural science (biology, forestry, fisheries & wildlife, botany, environmental science, et cetera). Graduate-level research experience or Graduate-level degrees will be considered an asset;
  • Experience leading/assisting with field projects and collecting environmental data;
  • Interest, and at least some formal training, in environmental education and watershed management; 
  • Ability to safely work outdoors in all weather conditions;
  • Positive attitude and ability to work closely and collaboratively with staff, volunteers, and external stakeholders; and a,
  • Motivated self-starter who is able to work independently.

Assets

  • Knowledge of and passion for the issues and challenges facing non-profit organizations;
  • Experience studying Cumulative Effects and work with large databases;
  • Strong writing and reporting skills, including proposal writing and record-keeping;
  • Electrofishing/Electro-seining field experience, training or certification;
  • Professional or academic knowledge of the natural environment and/or physical geography of Saint John, New Brunswick;
  • Knowledge of and passion for environmental education, conservation and restoration;
  • Previous experience in project management or leadership;
  • Experience with GIS platforms [preference given to experience with ArcGIS]; and,
  • Communications skills for interaction with community volunteers of all demographic backgrounds.

Because this position is funded through Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Science Horizons Program, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Intend to lead an environmental career related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics;
  • 30 years of age or younger;
  • Canadian citizen, landed immigrant, or refugee status;
  • Eligible to work in Canada;
  • Graduated from a post-secondary institution;
  • Unemployed or underemployed;
  • Have not participated previously in a federal youth employment or education program.

For more information on qualifications for the program, please visit http://www.eco.ca/eyc/

Additional Information

The advertised position is designed to be full-time [40 hours per week], from August 22, 2016 through to March 31, 2017.

ACAP Saint John is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome diversity in the workplace and encourage applications from all qualified candidates including women, members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and aboriginal peoples. 

About ACAP Saint John

For over two decades, ACAP has conducted successful in-school environmental education programs, summer camps, ecological inventories, water quality monitoring programs, habitat restorations, watercourse restorations, wetland enhancements, contaminated site remediation and engaged thousands of area residents in community cleanup initiatives. ACAP Saint John has an excellent reputation in the community for acting as a third party mediator on contentious environmental issues, and continues to expand their role as a public source of knowledge and information dissemination.

At its heart, ACAP Saint John is an environmental incubator, one that transforms and evolves our region’s landscapes with the help of governments, companies and community collaborators. Our work is designed be seen, felt and experienced throughout the environment – from our wetlands and coastlines to our streets and public spaces.

How to Apply

Please submit your cover letter and resume by August 12, 2016 to executivedirector at acapsj.org * with the subject line, "Urban Ecology Coordinator" - only those short-listed for an interview will be contacted.

*Note: The e-mail address above has been masked to help prevent spam. Please copy the address and replace “at” with @.

Cumulative Effects

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of collaborating with staff from the Muskoka Watershed Council and the District Municipality of Muskoka at their offices in Bracebridge, Ontario. Quite aside from the joy of visiting the most famous 'cottage country' in Canada, this was an amazing opportunity for ACAP Saint John to grow, as we continue to build toward a cumulative effects monitoring programme for Saint John Harbour.

Port Carling. Photo: Graeme Stewart-Robertson, 2015

Beginning in the Spring of 2015, ACAP has taken the reins of the Saint John Harbour Environmental Monitoring Partnership [SJH-EMP], charging ourselves with the immense task of uniting over two dozen stakeholder groups, ranging from government regulators, to industrial users, to academic researchers, all in the name of better science and a healthier harbour. This is a continuation of a multi-year project directed and funded by the Canadian Water Network [CWN], designed to, "build consistency in monitoring programs in the Saint John Harbour by understanding the spatial and temporal variability in sediment contaminants, macroinvertebrates and the best biosentinel species being determined by this project. The goal of the research is to design a long term monitoring program for the harbour that is recognized by regulators and users, and enable the incorporation of the information with partners and end users." Link

Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst. Photo: Graeme Stewart-Robertson, 2015

So why was I in Muskoka on a beautiful weekday in late May? The answer lies in the latter part of the above quote, because the "incorporation of the information with partners and end users," while not rocket science, is indeed a complicated and delicate task. Luckily, Saint John is not alone in these challenges, and the five other CWN watershed nodes [of which we were the first] that exist across the country each have their own expertise, software and research from which we can build and learn. What is particularly exciting for me, as a data manager, geographer and researcher, is the ability to draw technical expertise and database tools from these other watershed nodes. Thanks to meetings like these in Muskoka, ACAP will be better suited to take the brilliant science of academics at UNB and the Canadian Rivers Institute [CRI], the rigour of federal and provincial government scientists, along with the knowledge generation capabilities of our industrial partners, and allow Saint John to develop long-term monitoring programmes for our harbour.    

Muskoka Beach Road. Photo: Graeme Stewart-Robertson, 2015

While the work continues behind the scenes, keep an eye out for more information on this exciting project coming later in the year, including plain-language research outcomes from the amazing teams at CRI and details of ACAP's ongoing work to bring the stories of our region's environment directly to our community.

Lake Muskoka. Photo, Graeme Stewart-Robertson, 2015

A New Hope

If I had to name one thing that an Executive Director of a non-profit organisation survives upon, it would have to be hope. I see it every day, from the leaders of local housing initiatives, to human rights watchdogs, to social science researchers, to environmental groups like mine, we all rely on some form of hope to sustain us. 

The hope from which we draw our strength can take on many forms, it can be an undying love of community, it can be a vague optimism that some day things will get better, it can be a passion for ensuring everyone in our community has an equal voice, or it can be a grounded belief inspired by actions seen and felt around us. Consider me to be in the latter camp. 

It can get trying at times, as you spend half your year writing, planning and - you guessed it - hoping for the future. In my case it often takes the form of countless hours negotiating with various levels of government, proposing to grant agencies, impressing foundations and conferencing with research institutions, all under the auspices of some grand design intended to make an impact on Saint John's environment. It would be all too easy to get lost in the hopelessness of it all. But then comes one day in the Spring when the first of a parade of bright-eyed students, recent graduates and Millennial daydreamers comes to your office door, extends to you a resume where you expected an open hand, and in an instant you are reminded of every awkward interview, every hopeless internship and every menial job you ever had.

That is hope my friends. 

Theirs are the faces of a generation unwilling to accept that the way things are is the only way they ever will be. Theirs are the minds that will change how we look at urban wetlands, or active transportation, or climate change adaptation or any of the thousand other ways we can make our world better. More than a job, they are looking for validation, a sense that the lessons they were taught in school were more than just lip service paid to the problems of the world, but tools they were given to affect real change. If I had my way I would hire all of them, and give them all a chance to prove that working and thriving in our city is a product of opportunity more than it is of circumstance. The capabilities of our young people in Saint John is incredible, and to be able to bring in even a half dozen of them - as ACAP has done in the past two weeks - is in my mind a tremendous occasion for our region to grow.

What stands out as truly exciting in all of this, are the new horizons we are embarking upon this year. For the first time ever, we are able to hire students and researchers and regale them with grand tales of a time long ago when Saint John dumped untreated sewage into our harbour and our rivers, rather than briefing them on safety protocols as we prepared for that long, grim walk into a shadowy, pathogenic wasteland. These are the first of a new generation of researchers who will only know the contamination of Marsh Creek as numbers on a page or points on a graph, not as stains on their boots. If you cannot see that as progress, and if it does not fill your heart with its own sense of hope, well I am afraid there is little to be found for you in this world.

So that is why I continue on, because my contemporaries, and those before us, are compelled to believe that the work we do - whether this instant or ten years from now - will make a difference. While there may be days when we all feel a little starved of hope, we can look to our own Marsh Creek, a shining [and now crystal clear] example of how much difference a little hope can make.

 
Google+