The biggest issue for me when I’m voting is climate change. I only want to vote for candidates and parties who take the challenge seriously and are ready to push solutions forward. While most climate change solutions are provincial or national in scope, there is much that local governments are responsible for – notably land use, transportation, and buildings.
The traditional left-right divisions are obvious when you look at the voting record on environmental issues.
|Declaring a Climate Emergency||✅||✔||✔||✔||✔✔✔||✔✔✔||✔||✔|
|Climate Emergency Action Plan||✅||✔||✔||✔||✔✔✔||✔✔✔||X||X|
|Zero-Carbon Heating in New Homes||✅||✔||✔||✔||✔✔✔||XXX||–||X|
|Climate Emergency Parking Program||⛔️||X||✔||✔||✔✔✔||XXX||X||X|
|Big Oil Lawsuit||✅||✔||✔||✔||✔✔✔||XXX||X||X|
|Broadway Bike Lane||✅||✔||✔||✔||✔✔✔||✔✔✔||X||X|
|Commercial Drive Bike Lane||⛔️||X||✔||✔||XX✔||XXX||X||X|
|25¢ disposable cup fee||✅||✔||✔||✔||✔✔✔||XXX||X||X|
Climate EmergENCy Action Plan
Even though the Greens elected their biggest caucus in 2018 and had a lot of clout with 3 councillors, it was the lone OneCity councillor, Christine Boyle, who led the charge on environmental issues. She brought forward all the motions around the climate emergency and really championed them in the media.
It’s interesting to see how the votes progressed as council moved from talking about climate change to doing something about it. Declaring a climate emergency passed unanimously, but talk is cheap. The action plan, which directed staff to report back on how to achieve the targets, passed with De Genova (NPA) and Hardwick (TEAM) opposed to most of the measures. Councillor Dominato (ABC) and Kirby-Yung (ABC) opposed some pieces (like transport pricing and curbside parking).
ZERO-CARBON HEATING IN NEW BUILDINGS
One of the most promising outcomes from the Climate Emergency Action Plan has been shifting away from natural gas in new homes. Today, new homes in Vancouver will use electricity instead of natural gas for space heating and hot water, thanks to a narrow 6-5 vote.
Climate Emergency Parking Program
I was really excited about Vancouver’s curbside parking program and disappointed it failed on a 5-6 vote, with Mayor Kennedy Stewart (Forward) casting the deciding vote. The program would have removed free street parking across the city and added a special pollution charge to anyone buying new gas guzzlers.
The mayor did manage to get a Climate Levy passed that will fund some climate initiatives with extra property taxes. However, it’s less money than the parking program would have raised and it doesn’t have any positive behaviour change associated with it.
This leaves us where we are today, with a great action plan that is underfunded and lacks the consistent votes to get the most contentious parts of it passed.
The decision to not implement the Climate Emergency Parking Program means we have a significant gap in the overall CEAP financial framework. That gap is particularly important for Big Move 2 because the actions are largely reliant on City investment.Climate Emergency Annual Report 2021
HUB Cycling has an excellent summary of the council and park board voting records on cycling-related votes. The most contentious cycling addition in the past four years was the Stanley Park bike lane, which the NPA and TEAM have lobbied hard against and vowed to remove if elected.
Land Use and Density
Land use also plays a big part, as dense urban neighbourhoods have a much lower carbon footprint than sprawling, car-dependent suburbs. I recommend checkout out my summary on housing to see which parties support adding more density.
The climate change platforms of each party range from ambitious to embarrassing to non-existent.
|Shifting From Gas Cooking||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|New Bike Lanes||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|30 km/h Speed Limits||✔||✔||✔|
|EV City Fleet By 2030||✔||✔||✔||✔|
A+ – OneCity, GREENS, and VOTE Socialist
OneCity, the Greens, and Vote Socialist set the standard for climate change platforms in Vancouver. They tackle Vancouver’s most significant sources of emissions (buildings and transportation) with commitments to get rid of natural gas, expand the AAA bike network, and reclaim road space dedicated to cars.
B – Vision and Progress
Vision and Progress have good platforms with commitments to new bike infrastructure and turning Water Street into a car-free space. Vision is the only party that says where they want new bike lanes, promising to explore enhanced bike routes along Commerical Drive, Kingsway, and Stanley Park.
C – Forward
Update (Oct 4): Forward finally released their platform and it’s limited in ambition. There is an important pledge to phase out natural gas in existing buildings and ban it in new ones (similar to OneCity and Greens). However, other than some EV charger targets and a push to get more SkyTrain, there isn’t much to help reduce emissions. There is no cycling infrastructure mentioned or anything to make driving less convenient – in fact, they’re promising free parking pilots in Chinatown and Punjabi Market.
D – ABC
The ABC plan talks about supporting EVs and planting more trees but has nothing about cycling or natural gas. ABC also promises to: “explore a tax credit system for Vancouver residents who don’t own a car,” if you can believe that.
F – TEAM
TEAM‘s climate change platform can be summed up as “we might act on climate change, but not if it inconveniences people, costs money, or could be perceived as ‘greenwashing.'” Helpfully, they list everything they won’t do to address climate change – like road pricing, parking permits, expanding SkyTrain, or adding green building regulations. Given their voting record, the only surprising part is they bothered to write a climate platform.
Incomplete – COPE & NPA
We’re 2 weeks from the election, and we don’t have a platform from COPE or the NPA.
COPE has promised to offer free public transit to low-income Vancouverites.
For Our Kids has asked candidates questions about their commitment to climate change action.
HUB Cycling has an excellent candidate survey about transportation habits and support for cycling improvements.
As with housing, OneCity is my top choice for acting on the climate crisis. They have a strong voting record and an excellent platform. Christine Boyle has been a real climate champion bringing forward new legislation and defending the bolder changes in the media.
I’ve been critical of the Greens in the past for preventing housing density, opposing the SkyTrain to UBC, and their lukewarm support of bike lanes. But I do see them getting better. Maybe Adriane Carr had a come-to-Jesus moment in Copenhagen.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart (Forward) really disappointed environmentalists when he killed the parking permit program. His party hasn’t made any bold environmental pledges this election, but they have one of the strongest environmental champions in Tesicca Truong running for council.
Is Vision back? I have no idea, but I do have some nostalgia for their bike lane-building days.
I’m still debating who I’m going to vote for, but I’ll publish my endorsements soon.
[…] spending too much time dissecting old votes and reading platforms (especially on housing and climate change), I’ve decided who I will vote for. My choices consider the candidates with the best ideas, […]