If Vancouver’s newly-minted Climate Emergency Action Plan goes well, 2030 will find 80% of all trips within city limits occurring by foot, bike, or transit, embodied emissions in new buildings reduced by 40%, and 50% of all kilometres driven on city roads emitting zero greenhouse gases.
Also included in the plan, reports Business in Vancouver (BIV): cutting carbon pollution from buildings by 50% from 2007 levels.
But a key recommendation calling for a fee on vehicles entering the downtown core will be going out for further consultation before city council puts it to a vote.
Heralding the science-based plan as a path to a better quality of life for Vancouverites, and a road toward long-term savings of C$2.2 billion, city staff also described it as a plan “rooted in equity and justice for all people.”
However, they cautioned that the 371-page plan, adopted by city council on Wednesday, is still just a roadmap to guide more “analysis, consultation, and reports to council in the years ahead.”
The intent of the plan is to give Vancouver a direction forward, along with “plenty of time to work with the public,” said Doug Smith, director of the city’s sustainability group, in a separate interview with BIV.
Noting that meeting the city’s targets will require current and future councils “to push through a series of policies, bylaws, regulations, fees, and surcharges,” BIV adds that the C$500 million budgeted through 2025 will come from a range of sources, including additional funding from “senior governments.”
The plan also depends on residents and business owners investing $1.3 billion in energy-efficient technologies such as heat pumps and EVs.
While the three public meetings held in advance of the council vote revealed “overwhelming” support for the plan among attendees (who included doctors, parents, faith leaders, and environmentalists), a recommendation for transport pricing system produced significant backlash, especially from the business community.
“Downtown Vancouver relies on a regional customer base, they don’t rely on a Vancouver customer base exclusively,” said Charles Gauthier, president and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and other business groups are worried that charging motorists a fee to drive into the city centre could prove a final hammer blow to businesses already reeling from the pandemic, BIV adds. In response to those concerns, the majority of city councillors directed staff to look into the costs and benefits of transport pricing and report back in 2022.
Other measures in Vancouver’s plan include a city-wide residential parking permit fee system, and charging drivers according to the carbon intensity of their wheels. “The measures correspond to staff’s evidence that 39% of Vancouver’s carbon pollution is generated from the burning of gas and diesel in vehicles, second only to emissions from burning natural gas for heat and hot water in buildings,” explains BIV.
The plan won’t take effect until 2025 at the earliest, with the next 18 months set aside for further public consultations.
The Georgia Strait has the full text of the city council motion.