Required Reading – April 4, 2009

Ahead of G20 summit, report says: promote sustainability over growth (Guardian)

The pursuit of economic growth was one of the root causes of the financial crisis, and governments should respond to the recession by abandoning growth at all costs in favour of a more sustainable, greener system.

It has bothered me for a long time that our economic system is built on growth. We’ve relied too long on new construction and resource extraction to drive the Canadian economy. How long can that last? It’s certainly not sustainable. We’re seeing the consequences right now in the housing and stock markets. It’s a pyramid scheme that is crashing down around us.

The system is broken, and governments are just throwing money at it. Instead we should be focusing on strategic investments that will lead to a greener and sustainable future. Growth shouldn’t be the measure we judge our success on. We should be more focused on health and happiness.

Want One Port Mann Bridge, or a Light Rail Metropolis? (The Tyee)

What other transportation infrastructure, they asked, could we instead have for $3.1 billion?

By the time Prof. Patrick Condon and researcher Kari Dow at the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability finished punching in the numbers and mapped their results, they produced a startling alternative vision. For the same money, concluded the team, the government could finance a 200-kilometre light rail network that would place a modern, European-style tram within a 10-minute walk for 80 per cent of all residents in Surrey, White Rock, Langley and the Scott Road district of Delta, while providing a rail connection from Surrey to the new Evergreen line and connecting Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge into the regional rail system.

It all comes down to priorities. $3.1 billion is a lot of money. It could be used to build a 10-lane bridge that will lead car-dependent sprawl and increased pollution. Or it could be used to buy 200 km of light rail, that would make it more efficient to move around and create more livable communities.

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