Climate Action – Our Local Emission Reduction Agenda

Thousands of people, including many young activists and a parade of killer whales,  gathered outside the legislature last Friday as part of the worldwide climate strike.

Now what? How can we achieve our emission reduction targets in ways that also support other economic, social and environmental goals?

Cities for Everyone has solutions! Our transportation and neighborhood development policy agendas can achieve our region’s emission reduction goals, and provide other economic, social and environmental co-benefits.

Travel Change and Emission Reduction Targets

  • CRD: Reduce GHG emissions 61% below 2007 levels, by 2038, increase Victoria area transit mode share to 12% and double walking and bicycling by 2030.
  • Victoria: 55% of trips are by walking and bicycling and 100% of neighborhood are “complete” by 2041, 25% of trips are by transit and 100% of personal vehicles are renewably powered by 2050.
  • Canada: Reduce 2005 emission levels 30% by 2030.
  • British Columbia: Reduce 2007 emission levels 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050.

Below are highlights.

Our Efficient and Equitable Transportation Agenda

  1. Accelerate regional transit plan implementation. Implement the regional Transit Future plan in ten rather than 25 years. Increase transit funding by 50-100% ($125-250 annual per capita).
  2. Improve interregional transit connections. Provide frequent and affordable transit service from Victoria to Duncan/Nanaimo and Vancouver. Coordinate planning and services among provincial and regional agencies.
  3. Improve active transport (walking and bicycling) conditions. The CRD has a Regional Pedestrian & Cycling Masterplan, and local governments are improving walking and bicycling conditions, but implementation is slow due to inadequate funds. Increase active transport program funding by $50-100 annual per capita.
  4. Implement Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs. Local and regional governments can Implement TDM strategies and require TDM programs by large employers, as proposed in the CRD’s TDM strategy.
  5. Transit Oriented Development. Coordinate transit improvements and local policy reforms to create compact, walkable neighborhoods along frequent transit. Peer communities, including EdmontonHamilton and Saskatoon, have TOD guidelines and incentives.
  6. Eliminate or reduce minimum parking requirements and develop programs to more efficiently manage parking. Many cities are eliminating or significantly reducing parking requirements, so residents are no longer required to pay for parking spaces they don’t need.

If fully implemented these six policies can increase walking, bicycling and transit travel by 50-100%, and reduce automobile travel and emissions by 20-30%, and more if supported by provincial and national strategies such as fuel tax increases, pay-as-you-drive vehicle insurance and registration fees, and electric vehicle incentives.

Our Affordable and Inclusive Neighborhood Agenda

  1. Pre-zone areas designated for multi-family in the Official Community Plan (OCP). This will reduce infill development costs, increasing moderate-priced project feasibility.
  2. Allow an additional story for corner lots, larger lots (at least 1,000 square meters), and on busier streets (arterials or subarterials). These are locations where taller buildings have less impact on neighbours.
  3. Exempt moderate-priced housing from inclusivity mandates. This encourages developers to build more moderate-price units, which directly increases affordability for moderate-income households, and for lower-income households through filtering.
  4. Reduce fees and approval requirements for smaller and moderate-priced infill developments, since these are the projects we most need.
  5. Reduce or eliminate parking requirements and require or encourage unbundling (parking rented separately from housing units), so residents are not forced to pay for parking spaces they do not need. Many cities are doing this now to increase affordability, allow more compact development and reduce traffic problems. See: Progress on Parking Minimum Removals 
  6. Allow higher densities and building heights in exchange for more affordable units. Target densities can be applied in accessible locations, for example, at least three stories along minor arterials and four stories along major arterials.
  7. Subsidize housing for people with special needs, including those with disabilities and low incomes.
  8. Improve affordable housing design. Municipal governments can support contests, planning charrettes and workshops to encourage better design. The Affordable Housing Design Advisor, the Missing Middle Website, and Portland’s Infill Design Project provide resources for improving lower-priced housing design.

These development policy reforms significantly reduce energy consumption and pollution emissions, while also increasing affordability, public health and economic opportunity. Households located in suburban, single-family houses drive about three times more and produce about three times the transportation emissions as comparable households located in walkable urban neighborhoods. This indicates that large emission reductions can be achieved by allowing more households to locate in walkable urban neighborhoods, and by helping suburbs become more multi-modal, with better walking, bicycling and public transit, plus incentives to encourage travellers to use the most efficient mode for each trip.

The figure below shows how location affects resident’s vehicle travel and carbon emissions. In addition to reducing emissions, these automobile travel reductions and fuel savings increase affordability, as well as reducing other traffic problems.

Household Vehicle Travel and Emissions by Location (Salon 2014)

We can achieve emission reduction targets, and create more affordable, inclusive and successful communities!

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