Breaking the chrysotile habit: Track the decline of Canada’s asbestos industry

Leslie Young, Global News

In last week’s budget, the federal government promised $50-million over seven years to help diversify the economies of two Quebec towns: Thetford Mines and Asbestos.

Both communities historically relied on asbestos mining as the biggest driver of their economies. And with the decline of the asbestos industry, the local economies have suffered.

But how far has the asbestos industry fallen? According to Industry Canada, the value of Canada’s raw asbestos exports has dropped 94 per cent between 1990 and 2011. Exports alone were worth $645-million in 1990 and fell to $41-million in 2011.

The government’s promised $50-million over seven years represents about 8 per cent of what asbestos exports were in 1990.

Track the fall in an interactive graphic here.

Who you gonna call? For noise complaints in Toronto, probably the police

Patrick Cain, Global News

The neighbours’ stereo is pounding, midnight has come and gone, you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it any more.

Who are you going to call? Mostly, after 6pm or so, Toronto residents pass up the chance to talk to the helpful folks at the 311 line – the municipal one-stop-shop service for a range of issues from potholes to parking – and just call the police, hoping to bring an abrupt and (from one point of view) satisfying end to the party.

Read the full story here.

Caribou in trouble, whales resurgent: A census of B.C. species

Leslie Young, Global News

The past few decades have been good to British Columbia’s humpback and sperm whales. But the province’s boreal caribou and a tiny, vital smelt species are not doing so well.

The data, released in February 2013 on the province’s Data BC website, ranks vertebrates by their conservation status. Species are assessed on three major factors, according to Eric Lofroth, manager of the B.C. Conservation Data Centre: their population numbers, threats to the organism, and trends in the organism’s population and habitat.

But declining population numbers don’t necessarily mean an animal’s protected: A high-risk ranking might place an animal on the lists of species that require special consideration – meaning flagging them for further investigation, but wouldn’t confer “endangered” status.

Read the full story here.