A report by the Real Estate Foundation of BC (REFBC) finds that little progress has been made towards climate change goals as set out in the BC Climate Action Charter, which was signed by the province of B.C., the Union of BC Municipalities, and local governments 10 years ago. To achieve emissions reductions, local governments agreed to take action (with provincial support) towards “creating complete, compact, more energy efficient rural and urban communities.”
But the report finds efforts to shift travel to public transit, walking and cycling has been slow. Despite commitments to reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020, GHGs associated with personal transportation (the largest GHG contributor in B.C.) remain near 2007 levels. If this trend continues, B.C. will not meet its 2020 commitment to reduce GHG emissions
The report recommends strengthening the Charter’s smart growth foundations by better integrating land use and transportation planning in B.C. communities.
“The connection between land use and transportation is often overlooked in climate strategies,” says REFBC CEO Jack Wong. “Accommodating population growth in existing neighbourhoods helps to support diverse housing and transportation options that, in turn, lower municipal infrastructure costs and reduce community GHG emissions.”
While the B.C. government has steadily increased spending on transit, these investments have been outpaced by spending on infrastructure that supports personal vehicle travel. The report finds that, for every $1 spent on transit between 2008 and 2011, $4.50 was spent on roads and bridges. For 2017 to 2020, road and bridge spending is projected to increase to $6.50 for every $1 allocated to transit.
Stronger integration of land use and transportation planning will help the province meet its climate action targets. To support this, the report makes 10 recommendations to provincial ministries.
- Use market-based tools to expand transportation choice and more fairly share the costs of transportation infrastructure.
- Update community GHG reduction targets and provide provincial support to meet them.
- Reinvest in B.C.’s Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (CEEI) system to provide defensible transportation sector data.
The report was commissioned by the Real Estate Foundation of BC as part of its research on sustainable built environments in British Columbia. The report was prepared by Boston Consulting, with review and consultation from the Smart Growth Task Force.
Download the report at bit.ly/growing-smarter