Parking Fee Debate Review

October 8, 2021

As most of you will have heard by now, City Council voted 6-5 to not move forward with City staff’s proposals for a city-wide overnight parking fee and the establishment of a “pollution tax” on high-emission automobiles. The proposal claimed to be a key element of the City’s Climate Emergency Action Plan but even the Mayor — who usually votes in lockstep with the Vision 2.0 coalition of One City and the Greens — thought it was ill-thought out.

The result emerged after many hours of debate with scores of residents speaking their piece. What was clear to me after all that was that staff had made a strategic mistake. They love to dump multiple items into Reports that are so long they recognize that most working folk will not have time to read them. On this occasion, though, they would have been much more successful had they introduced two separate motions: one on the parking fees, and another on the pollution tax. I suspect that many people like me opposed the proposed version of the first but support the principals of the second. I can hardly remember a single speaker referring to the pollution tax during the debate — the entire argument was over the parking fee. Staff’s decision to link the two consigned both to defeat.

Of course once the vote failed, the faux progressives immediately claimed that this was a disaster and had set back Vancouver’s efforts to face up to climate change. That is nonsense of course and it astounds me that anyone could actually think the parking fee would have made a significant dent in emissions. It would have applied to a minority of vehicles in Vancouver and it would have charged people for parking, not driving. It’s effect on emissions would have been less than zero.

I am told that I am missing the point; that the purpose of the tax was to shift people out of their cars and onto bikes or walking or transit. However, the proponents also claimed (as a debate selling point) that it would come at minimal cost to residents. They failed to explain how something with virtually no cost would shift attitudes in the way they suggest.

Much of the talk last night was about freeing up public space on the roads and yet the City bans parking on front yards and most new multi-family developments Council approves these days come with very restricted parking requirements; thus forcing more cars to park on the streets. Some might suggest that the parking fee was a revenue stream caused by policies already passed.

Councillor Boyle, after the debate, was vociferous in her criticisms of those opposing the plan. She claimed that we were simply being negative and had offered up no alternatives. Either she hadn’t been listening to the vast online discussion over the past week or she was choosing to misrepresent. Many of us have proposed putting the pollution tax (the far more important part of the plan) through ICBC. They are already set up to administer such a scheme and so no additional layer of city bureaucrats would be needed. It is true that this would require the City along with UBCM to lobby the Provincial government both to implement the program and to equitably share the revenues. Apparently Councillor Boyle didn’t like the idea of that kind of political hard work.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the three Green Councillors, who were aghast at this loss, had a chance to make a real difference back in January but chose, all three of them, to approve the purchase by Translink of additional high-emission gas buses rather than pushing for an electric option. Success in that venture would have made a far bigger dent in emissions than dinging a working Jane or Joe for parking their car on a city street overnight.

Vancouver’s Green (?) Plan

November 18, 2020

This is my take on the Climate Emergency Action Plan approved by City Council yesterday — it is greenwashing on a huge scale, devised to sell in the 2022 election; something that Vision Vancouver would have been proud of.

I absolutely agree with the supporters of this Plan who recognize that climate change is a far greater emergency in the medium term than several virus pandemics combined. But this Plan — applauded by already-wealthy developers all across the City — is not the answer.

Passing this Plan today allows the Greens and Vision 2.0 to crow about it come election time in the fall of 2022. The problem is that the only parts of the Plan that will be in place by that time will be the hugely profitable giveaways to the developers. All the rest will still be aspirational — especially the very expensive costs to the car-using public — with the price hidden away until after the votes have been counted.

Unlike many of my friends and colleagues I happen to be a supporter of congestion pricing (road tolls) such as they have in London and Stockholm. But I am also a supporter of honesty in government. Had the majority of Councillors had the integrity to pass a Motion that said this is why we are having road tolls and this is how much it will cost you, I would be behind them all the way. But they didn’t want to wait for the budgeting exercise, and they couldn’t face the indignation of the car-driving electorate; they were more interested in getting the applause from the peanut gallery without actually doing much, and making sure the real dollars are not revealed until they have four more years in office.

That is my opinion. As we used to say in the 60s “Your mileage may vary.”

Climate Plan Comments Urgently Needed

November 14, 2020

Next week, Vancouver City Council will vote on the Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP). Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) and the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods (CVN) oppose this Plan and have sent out a mailer listing their issues:

Eliminating parking minimums in new residential construction gives too much cost saving benefit to developers, while offloading those costs to residents of the new building and surrounding area.

Pay permit parking citywide unfairly offloads developers’ costs onto area residents, who will be increasingly squeezed out of street parking due to the removal of parking minimum requirements, and increased costs will make life even more unaffordable.

Required conversion to zero emission heat and hot water for existing detached homes. This would have huge costs for conversion and operating, making it less affordable for owners and renters.

Annual home energy efficiency testing and fines for not meeting targets or doing upgrades. Would particularly disadvantage existing character houses.

Road tolls proposed for Downtown and Central Broadway which penalizes local businesses and residents while invading privacy by tracking movements.

Promoting growth rather than managing growth. This increases the city’s environmental footprint.

$500 million capital  and operating costs proposed for CEAP over next 5 years. CEAP would be on top of current deficits.  High current budget deficits are already projected for next few years to recover from COVID alone.

No broad public consultation held. The 371 page report was released to the public for the first time 3 business days before being considered at Council and the speakers list closed.

The Speakers’ List for this Motion is already closed, but you can still get your views to City Council.

Submit comments by copying or attaching a pdf through the City’s online form so that staff count it HERE

Also Email To:

  Emails are urgently required by 3:00pm Tuesday 17th November.

“…And The Waters Around Us Have Grown”

November 5, 2019

Thanks to @Lidsville on Twitter we are alerted to the excellent interactive maps of anticipated sea level rise by 2050, just 30 years away. Here is a map of the Lower  Mainland:


A closer view of Grandview and its neighbours shows False Creek reclaiming its historic Clark Drive boundary:


More importantly, this is where the new St. Paul’s Hospital is supposed to be built.  Already there have been stories of liquefaction tests at the proposed site; this is a problem that can only be worsened by a rise in sea level. I suspect  that the technology-heavy and expensive “solution” will be some form of barrier at Main Street, probably with SNC involved.

And what of the entire industrial waterfront along the Inlet?  Are they planning for sea level rise and I missed seeing the stories?

This is important stuff, and thirty years is not very long.