Advocacy, education and outreach in support of Vancouver's public spaces

By VPSN

November 2, 2020 at 5:30 PM

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Climate Emergency Action Plan: VPSN support

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Later this week, Vancouver City Council will be debating an ambitious set of actions aimed at responding to the Climate Emergency. You can see the details in the following report.

The VPSN submitted a letter in support of this work, and noted that urgent action to address climate change and its impacts are necessary to ensure the well-being of common future.

Given the Network’s focus on placemaking, advocacy and research related to the city’s public realm, our chief consideration in supporting the various actions relates to areas that have the potential to improve Vancouver’s public spaces. That being said, we are broadly supportive of ALL the directions outlined in the staff report. Climate change represents an existential crisis for our city, the country, and the globe as a whole. Unless we work hard to solve the various issues it poses, public space will be the least of our concerns.

With that in mind, we noted specific support for key transportation related recommendations, including a city-wide parking permit system and congestion charging. The following is an excerpt from our letter:

We would like to particularly applaud the bold proposals for achieving zero emission vehicle targets including a citywide parking permit system, support for EV adoption and increasing opportunities for non-motorized and public transportation options. Our hope is that as road space is reallocated away from free private vehicle storage there will be opportunities to retrofit add or implement desperately needed public space amenities and infrastructure for people rather than cars, including seating for resting and contemplating, lighting for safety and other more unique additions to our streetscapes – boulevard gardens, tiny free libraries, bird and insect-friendly planting, storm water management (and many others). Permit-only parking has been implemented in the West End neighbourhood with good results – extending this scheme to the remainder of the city seems to be a logical next step.

We observe that while sometimes difficult politically, a well-managed and implemented a city-wide transportation demand management system (congestion charge) is extremely effective at shifting mode share away from high-carbon private vehicles and into lower carbon modes. London, England which introduced a similar system in 2003 has reduced congestion and provided better transport services, cleaner air and safer roads as well as providing the city with significant additional revenue to in turn help support increasing non-private vehicle mode share and improving streets for pedestrians and bikes among other actions. We encourage the City to work with Translink, regional municipalities and other regional partners to ensure that there are safe and affordable alternatives to private vehicle trips particularly for essential workers and those that cannot avoid using private vehicles for work and pleasure access to the Vancouver core.

In January 2019, City Council unanimously supported the declaration of a climate emergency, and subsequently supported a program of Six Big Moves in April 2019. These were important directions in their own right, but now it’s time to take the next step and invest in meaningful action to advance the necessary next steps. The proposed actions that will be debated this week can play an important role in that regard.

 

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