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Vancouver’s Leadership: Responding to the Climate Emergency

CALL FOR SUPPORT OF VANCOUVER’S CLIMATE EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN

Renewable Cities urges Vancouver City Councillors to support the Climate Emergency Action Plan, while recommending minor amendments to mitigate risks and strengthen implementation.

A number of concerns have been raised by community members, and these are important to acknowledge. However, they should not detract from the overwhelmingly positive course being set by the CEAP recommendations.

The Business Case: The CEAP Manages Costs, Maximizes Benefits & Transforms Markets

There are two compelling reasons to support the Climate Emergency Action Plan:

1. Managing Inaction Costs, Maximizing Benefits: The cost of inaction on climate change will make COVID-19 costs pale by comparison. Climate change impacts and the costs of adaptation and emission reduction grow with every year of delay. This CEAP begins a decisive shift to addressing multiple diverse benefits with an increasingly integrated agenda.

2. Accelerating Market Transformation: The City is exercising leadership and transforming the marketplace. This is driving senior government changes and further reducing costs. Vancouver’s bold new construction energy bylaws are positively impacting  construction sites across B.C. and reverberating through senior government corridors in other parts of Canada. Vancouver is a flagship city. We’re optimistic the CEAP will compel the B.C. battleship and the federal behemoth to make course corrections.

Hurdling Minor Obstacles (Mobility Pricing, Parking, Costs): A Resilient Recovery

Below are approaches to managing some of the concerns raised by community members:

1. Mobility Pricing: Effective & Equitable: A Metro Core congestion charge could inadvertently sustain steady, regional growth in cars, carbon, commute time and congestion by accelerating distributed employment and residential growth across the region. This is the major driver of:

    • reverse single passenger vehicle commuting from downtown to isolated employment areas
    • surging growth in personal vehicles  (currently rising at 2x the rate of population growth)
    • steadily growing commuting distances

Replace Recommendation – D with: e.g.: direct staff to evaluate diverse options for transport pricing implementation at local and regional scales, exploring diverse alternatives to the Metro Core congestion charge. Solutions should not impact City businesses unfairly, increase inequity, and increase carbon and congestion regionally.

2. Financial Framework: Managing Costs & Mainstreaming Resilience: The CEAP’s COVID-19 Statement omits consideration of the opportunity to drive a resilient recovery: socially, ecologically and financially. The CEAP is a commendable major course correction. There are, nevertheless, immense untapped opportunities for deeper systemic solutions that address multiple policy objectives and move beyond some traditional high cost, technical fixes, e.g.: lower cost UBC rapid transit solutions, and diverse opportunities for more deeply integrating housing, transportation and affordability with carbon management associated with land use—low to no cost solutions.

Replace Recommendation W with: “….explore diverse options to manage short and long-term implementation costs that move beyond some of the more traditional, high-cost traditional approaches and offer systemic solutions to complex problems, providing a roadmap for a genuine resilient recovery.” 

3. Parking: Huge Costs with Current Policies, Big Benefits with Bold Actions: Parking subsidies and parking oversupply has strongly shaped our automobile dominated urban land form with immense cost to human health, affordability, quality of life and tax burden, as well as climate and congestion. Transforming parking policy has potential to generate benefits in each one of these areas. Some parking policy reforms in commercial areas that aren’t well served by transit and active travel options may have some of the same consequences as a Metro Core congestion charge and can benefit from careful study.

Download the full submission:  SFU RC CoV Climate Emergency Nov 16 2020

City of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan Report: CoV_Climate Emergency Action Plan Report