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Written by EVA COLMENARO   
Friday, 25 March 2011 12:21

What Calgarians can do during Earth Hour

First Sydney, then the world.

Earth Hour returns on Saturday. Calgarians have a few events around the city that they can attend to celebrate the hour where the world turns dark.

Earth Hour is a global event organized by the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF, to support cleaner energy.


It started in Sydney in 2007, and a year later, it had spread all over the globe, with more than 35 countries participating. In 2010, according to the WWF’s website, 1.3 billion people in 128 countries and territories switched off their lights during Earth Hour.

This year, Earth Hour will start at 8:30 p.m. local time, and will go on for one hour.

Here are a couple of events Calgarians can attend to make their Earth Hour a little more fun.

EcoLiving Events

One option is to go to St. Vladimir’s Cultural Centre to watch the lights turn off in downtown Calgary as hot chocolate is served and acoustic music is played.

During Earth Hour, all who are present can also share ideas about “what needs to change in Calgary (environmentally),” says Judi Vandenbrink, a board member of EcoLiving Events, the non-profit environmental organization behind this event. She says there are lots of issues that need to be addressed such as transit accessibility and how green Calgary’s houses are.

Vandenbrink says that Earth Hour is more about “showing how (environmental change) is as easy as turning off the light. One hour isn’t going to change the world.”

The event starts at 8 p.m., and there will be a countdown until Earth Hour starts half an hour later. St. Vladimir’s Cultural Centre is on 404 Meredith Road N.E.

Higher Ground Cafe

Participating for the third year, Higher Ground Cafe in Kensington will be turning off all of its lights for Earth Hour.

“We’re just going to light a bunch of candles,” says Dan Clapson, the cafe’s general manager. He says people can still come in and grab a drink in the candlelight, though.

Municipality of Jasper

Although Jasper is not necessarily close to Calgary, if anyone feels like heading up this weekend, there are a couple of events happening in town.

A group of local restaurants will turn off their lights and let their guests dine in candlelight, says Janet Cooper, environmental stewardship co-ordinator for the Municipality of Jasper.

“Some restaurants even adjusted their menu especially for Earth Hour,” Cooper says. “And (if) people ask (customers of these restaurants) what they did during Earth Hour, they can say, ‘I dined in the dark.’”

Another event is a “walk and talk.” Participants will meet at Old Fort Point and walk along the Athabasca River. They will then sit at an area by the river with picnic tables and a bonfire, and hear from a Parks Canada interpreter about Jasper as a Dark Sky Preserve. Afterwards, they will walk back to Old Fort Point.

Also dimming their lights

Other places in Calgary will contribute to Earth Hour as well.

The Calgary Tower will “extinguish all exterior lighting,” says Jay Cowan, vice-president of real estate of Aspen Properties, owners of the Calgary Tower. The Palliser Square Complex will also turn off all non-essential lights, those “that won’t compromise safety,” Cowan says.

Similarly, the Calgary Airport will be turning off all “non-essential and non-emergency lights” during Earth Hour, says Jody Moseley, director of corporate communications. “It’s part of our commitments to reduce energy consumption during that hour, which is, I think, the purpose of the entire event.”

Other buildings that will turn off non-essential lights this Saturday, according to the WWF-Canada website, include:

• Sears stores

• Canadian Tire stores

• Suncor Energy Centre

• EnCana Place

• Gulf Canada Square

• Stock Exchange Tower

• The Sheldon Chumir Centre

• The Delta Calgary Airport Hotel

• And many other buildings and stores around the city