Full list of 32 climate action policies totalling $500 million approved by Vancouver City Council

Nov 19 2020, 12:23 am

A sweeping, comprehensive plan to help address climate change has been approved by Vancouver City Council.

On Tuesday evening, city council voted on 32 policies and strategies individually, including the controversial big-ticket items of planning for Metro Core mobility pricing by 2025 or earlier, and mandatory permit parking requirements for all residential streets across the city as early as 2021.

Other items under this Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) focused on developing a framework for developing further strategies to address climate change, including broad planning strategies and specific directives to city staff.

Some of these items specifically relate to active transportation, public transit bus priority measures, expanding electric-battery vehicle charging, setting new emissions targets for residential and non-residential buildings both old and new, and greener construction materials and methods.

All of the items are grouped under one of the five “Big Moves” that establish climate action targets for this decade.

By 2030, according to CEAP, 90% of Vancouver residents will live within an “easy walk/roll” for their daily needs, two-thirds of all trips in Vancouver will be made by public transit, walking, or cycling, 50% of the km driven on Vancouver’s roads will be zero-emission vehicles, carbon pollution from buildings will be cut by 50% compared to 2007 levels, and the embodied emissions from new buildings will be reduced by 40% compared to a 2018 baseline.

Although there were deviations, city council generally voted along party lines, with the NPA opposed to a greater number of the measures, and the Green Party, OneCity, COPE, and independent members in favour of most.

“This is a council that unanimously supported the declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ less than two years ago, and we need to collectively come together, not just this council, but us as a city and region,” said Green Party councillor Pete Fry.

“We need to come together and recognize that we are on the precipice of this catastrophic change to our planet, and we have opportunities to make a difference. We live in a city that is very progressive on this front; we live in an incredibly dense city with a compact area and high population where we can implement many of these things and can lead in our region, our country, and our planet. We can be a centre of innovation excellence and practice what we preach.”

OneCity councillor Christine Boyle, who has been a vocal supporter of CEAP and put forward the aforementioned 2019 motion on declaring a climate emergency, cited recent scientific studies that asserted “time is running out” to have a meaningful impact on reversing climate change.

“This is the sort of climate action we need at every level of government to truly rise to the climate emergency. This is the sort of leadership that young people have been calling for, and the health professionals, faith leaders, parents, and residents across the city and beyond have been calling for.”

“I hope we as a council remain committed to science-based targets and science-based plans, rooted in justice and in fairness. It’s clear that the status quo is failing many people, and that it’s not fair to keep pushing climate action down the road. There’s too much at stake.”

However, NPA councillor Colleen Hardwick likened the urgency over climate action to the calls to the nuclear disarmament movement of the 1980s, but questioned the real effectiveness of the City of Vancouver’s policies on a global scale.

“It was the result of this advocacy that the City of Vancouver became a nuclear-free zone. Fortunately for us, the nuclear threat declined with the end of the Cold War, but not because of Vancouver,” said Hardwick.

“There’s no question that climate change is a profound threat to humankind… But the current question remains, what can Vancouver do? We similarly heard from the notion of climate change is understandingly a motive and suggest we have to do every single thing we can no matter what the cost or inconvenience because otherwise, the consequence is no less than dire for the entire planet.”

Hardwick went on to suggest the measures will have little to no impact on the global scale of climate change but could have a proportionally significantly greater impact on the city’s residents and businesses.

“Here’s the deal, the City of Vancouver is 115 sq. km. between Boundary Road and the University Endowment Lands. 115 sq. km. against the globe’s 510.1 million sq. km. And so we really have to be careful about what we do to move the needle in impacting the planet, and what we can do in the next few months,” continued Hardwick.

“So I’m concerned about the timing, I’m concerned about the affordability impacts in the short term. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Why would we kick small businesses, restaurants, bars, and clubs when they’re down? We can revisit these ideas after we’ve let the city recover a bit.”

The components of the plan carry a combined cost of $500 million, but this also includes the cost of measures that serve a dual purpose of generating net revenue such as up to $80 million annually from mobility pricing from road tolls similar to London, Singapore, and Stockholm, and up to $15 million annually from mandatory citywide residential street parking permits.

According to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, which has been opposed to major components of the plan, particularly mobility pricing, the 371-page CEAP report contains 160 uses of the word “fee,” 86 uses of “charge” or “surcharge,” 44 uses of “revenue,” 159 uses of “pricing,” and 69 uses of tax. Revenue-generating-related terms total 518 mentions.

Here is a full rundown of the approved policies and strategies under CEAP:

1. Climate action goals highlighted in Vancouver Plan. Adding the target for “complete, walkable neighbourhoods” in the city’s upcoming Vancouver Plan.

2. Exceed existing “walkable neighbourhood” targets outlined by existing community plans. Adopt a sustainable transportation target of at least 80% of trips made by walking, cycling, or public transit by 2030 in current and emerging planning areas around SkyTrain stations.

3. Accelerate existing green transportation plans. City staff will accelerate the components outlined within the municipality’s existing Transportation 2040 plan.

4. Implement mobility pricing for the Metro Core by 2025 or earlier. Road tolls or a similar congestion charge will be planned for the area containing all of the downtown Vancouver peninsula and Central Broadway Corridor. City staff will report back on options for consideration through 2022.

5. Develop a new five-year active transportation and bus-priority plan. New projects that create new walking and cycling infrastructure, and accelerate the speed of TransLink’s buses, such as bus-only lanes and traffic signal priority. This will be implemented beginning in 2021.

6. Develop a citywide transportation management action plan by 2021. Determine a transportation demand plan that accounts for semi-permanent increases in remote and flexible work as a result of COVID-19.

7. Eliminate minimum parking supply requirements in new buildings, and implement mandatory parking permit requirements for all residential streets across Vancouver. City staff will bring forward a proposal to city council on residential street parking changes in 2021. Exceptions include spaces needed for accessibility, and implementing parking maximums. A “low-cost” permit strategy could be in place as early as 2021, and it will transition to a “market-based” strategy from 2023 to 2025. This policy will be based on the age and carbon emissions of a vehicle. For eliminating minimum parking supply requirements in new buildings, this strategy is aimed to lower the cost of housing and emissions.

8. Implement a residential parking permit surcharge for certain vehicles. This will impact vehicle model years 2022 and later, with the surcharge price accounting for the vehicle’s carbon intensity and cost.

9. Expand electric-battery vehicle charging stations near homes. Access to charging stations for residents without foreseeable access to home charging.

10. Expand access to off-street electric-battery vehicle charging stations for residents in existing residential rental buildings. City staff will bring forward options in 2021.

11. Increase requirements for off-street electric-battery vehicle charging in new non-residential buildings. City staff will bring forward options in 2021.

12. Encourage gas stations and parking lots to offer electric-battery vehicle charging services. City staff will propose policy changes in 2021 that amend business license fees for gas stations and parking lots that enable them to offer charging.

13. Encourage the electrification of vehicles. Develop and implement programs to support the electrification of light-duty passenger fleets, public transit, and urban freight.

14. Limit annual carbon pollution from existing large commercial buildings and detached homes starting in 2025. City staff will bring forward options in 2021.

15. Require energy and emissions reporting by large commercial and multi-family building and detached homeowners by 2023. City staff will bring forward options in 2021.

16. Explore facilitating property owner access to favourable financing and third-party investment in deep emissions retrofits. This can be accomplished by enabling long-term and secure repayment of this investment as part of property tax collection, but it would require city staff to determine whether this is permitted under the Vancouver Charter.

17. Implement elements of the zero-emissions buildings retrofit strategy. This includes the creation of incentives, removal of barriers, support for capacity building, and collaboration with utilities on the provision of renewable energy.

18. Request city staff-proposed recommendations on updates to the existing Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings in 2021. This will set initial limits for embodied carbon in impacted new developments.

19. Greener construction methods. Encourage the use of building materials and practices that substantially reduce embodied carbon from the construction of new buildings.

20. Implement an embodied carbon strategy for building construction. Through incentives, this will remove barriers, support the expansion of industry capacity, and align with complementary city strategies for low-carbon construction.

21. Accelerate nature-based carbon sequestration targets and recommended pilot projects. The timeline will shift from Fall 2020 to Fall 2021, potentially in collaboration with First Nations, Metro Vancouver Regional District, and other municipal governments.

22. City staff will provide city council with information on the five-year forecast of city funding requirements for various climate action targets. This will be in line with efforts to achieve the city’s 2030 climate targets.

23. City staff will propose in 2021 possible new or additional fees or charges to encourage low-carbon investments and behaviours. This will also be a sustainable funding source to support climate emergency actions.

24. City council endorsed climate action as a key priority in the municipal government’s mid- to long-term capital planning processes. This includes the next four-year capital plan and the 10-year capital strategic outlook.

25. City staff will pursue funding from the provincial and federal governments and other partners to support the implementation of CEAP. Other advocacy entities such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities will also be asked to advocate for funding from senior governments.

26. City staff will report on progress towards Vancouver’s climate change targets and strategies under CEAP. These reports will be made annually.

27. City staff will collaborate with the local First Nations — Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh — on the development and implementation of climate plans. The city will also consider financial support for the First Nations towards achieving the goals.

28. City council approved the continuation of the “Climate and Equity Working Group.” City staff will also work with the group to create a “Climate Justice Charter.”

29. City staff will conduct public consultation with residents and businesses on the strategies of CEAP. There will be consideration for “equity” and will include efforts to reach “disproportionately impacted communities.”

30. City staff will prioritize actions that support and improve the effectiveness of the climate emergency initiatives. This includes the enforcement of climate-related bylaws.

31. City staff will continue to work with other entities to advance common climate goals. This includes the federal and provincial governments, BC Hydro, FortisBC, TransLink, and Metro Vancouver Regional District.

32. The upcoming Vancouver Plan will be used as the foundation for the city’s next comprehensive environmental plan. Recommendations will be brought forward in 2021 on the next steps to develop another comprehensive environmental plan.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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