Anne Roberts

Cope former councillor (2002 - 2005) for Vancouver city council

 

Do you support raising {your municipality’s} community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets to meet or beat the new province-wide standard of 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050 (percentages refer to a reduction below 2007 levels)? [Note that some cities already match the 80% target but lack interim targets, which are crucial to meeting these goals!]

Yes

 

Will you submit a formal request to council to adopt these targets within one year of being elected?

Yes

 

Are you in favour of transparent, annual measuring and reporting of [your municipality’s] community-wide emissions?

Yes

 

Will you submit a formal request to council to ensure transparent, annual measuring and reporting of community-wide emissions, within one year of being elected?

Yes

 

Will you commit to taking a leadership role in ensuring that city council and staff work with community members, businesses, developers, and other stakeholders to achieve these community-wide targets in a meaningful way and within the specified time frame?

Yes

 

Describe three steps you will take during your first year in office to uphold this commitment.

#1: If elected, COPE councillors will immediately work with others to draft policy for emission reduction targets, including annual reporting. We will consult closely with environmental organizations and city staff to develop a strong policy, and build consensus with all stakeholder sectors and amongst city councillors to see it through. COPE believes in opening up city hall to social movements, so we’ll help organize hundreds of delegations to support the policy.

 

#2. To help us meet these emissions targets, COPE will be advocating for strong policies around transit, housing, and green energy. With such a large portion of GHG emissions caused by personal vehicles, one of the biggest things we can do is help people transition from driving cars to public transit -- in addition to walking and biking. That means making transit more affordable and increasing the number of electric buses. Another key part of COPE's platform is to protect affordable housing, and build social and co-op housing close to where people work so they don't have to commute long distances. The city should also incentivize the use of solar energy in new and upgraded buildings including city-owned buildings. (We've provided more detail on these policy areas in the “five key concepts” question below). Finally, we will continue to support the movement to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline, including using City Hall as a platform for opposing the project.

 

#3. In addition to passing formal targets, and working for policy changes around transit, housing, and green energy, we think it’s important to support organizations working for environmental justice. While politicians can make change from the inside, it’s essential for movements to flourish on the outside as well. Groups like AllOnBoard, the Vancouver Tenants Union, Force of Nature, and many others, are making a big difference. We want to use city staff to support the necessary research and policy development needed for the city to do its part on these issues. That will include shifting part of the city’s communications staff over to doing support for councillors, working more closely with groups working for social and environmental justice. 

 

 

Force of Nature’s framework emphasizes “five key concepts” of urban climate solutions. What ideas or initiatives would you bring forth to promote, encourage or enforce the reduction of community-wide GHG emissions in each of the following categories: compact communities, multi-modal transportation, renewable energy, green jobs, and circular economy.

Compact communities: COPE will advocate for building nice non-market and social housing in the city, close to where people work so they don't have to commute unnecessarily long distances. South False Creek is a model to follow with its medium density, walkable community, and amenities and services and close to jobs at the centre of the city. We will also work to strengthen policies that protect existing affordable rental and co-op buildings. In last year’s by-election, Jean Swanson proposed a Mansion Tax on the value of properties over $5 and $10 million, which was quite popular. In the province’s subsequent budget they implemented a version of this -- the “school tax” -- but the revenues are not being earmarked to build public housing. On council, we wlll try to work out an arrangement with the province, whereby the city can benefit from progressive property taxation. We need this revenue source to end the housing crisis and help Vancouverites afford housing in their neighbourhoods.

 

Multi-modal transportation: COPE wants the city to play a big role in working toward universal access to transit, starting with free transit for children under 18, $5 passes for low-income people like they have in Calgary, and affordable passes for people earning under $50,000. To improve bus service, we need more electric buses and more bus-only lanes. At the same time, the city should improve safety of biking, and create compact communities so people can walk to services, retail and work. In the City’s Transportation 2040 plan, they proposed a goal of increasing transit ridership from 22% to 33% by 2040. We can try to reach that goal faster. Universal access to bus passes could increase ridership by over 50% -- as seen with the U-Pass and Community Pass at UBC, or municipal programs like that in Boulder, Colorado. If Vancouverites had access to an affordable pass, transit ridership could increase to 33% in one year. To help fund these programs, COPE will advocate to get funding from the provincial Carbon Tax, which will be seeing annual revenues increasing to $2 billion within two years.

 

Green jobs: There are many ways to help transition away from the fossil fuel economy toward a green one. In addition to incentivizing solar energy, the city should work for publicly-owned geo-thermal heating and cooling systems, and seek federal and provincial money to upgrade existing public, non-profit, and co-op housing in environmentally-sustainable ways. Tree cover has been lost in many parts of Vancouver, so COPE will work to get more trees planted across the city. Expanding public transit also creates green jobs. Working towards free transit will require more electric buses and drivers. COPE will work with organized labour to set up environmental advocates in the workplace, similar to health and safety advocates, who could suggest improvements around material movement, use of excess energy, and staff commuting. The city should require that all vehicles-for-hire are regulated to require fuel efficiency and, eventually, convert to electric vehicles while having proper regulations and working conditions for workers.

 

Circular economy: The city can do a lot to reduce waste. Over 1,000 single-family home demolitions in Vancouver, while ~50 rental buildings (>300 apartments) are demolished/redeveloped such that tenants are displaced and cannot return. This causes 500,000 tonnes of waste every year, with 25% going into the landfill. By banning the demolition of rental buildings and homes that contain rental suites, we could reduce waste by 10s of thousands of tonnes every year. COPE originally introduced the city’s ethical purchasing policy, which should be improved to source more reused and recyclable materials. Under the City’s Affordable Housing Agency, we should ensure that all new construction meets the highest environmental standards. The city could operate facilities that would repair appliances so they wouldn't have to be thrown out. .

 


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