City of Vancouver is not on track to meet climate goals: report

A progress report shows a $ 230 shortfall in the money needed to meet the city’s climate plan goals.

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Vancouver is not on track to meet its goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030, according to a progress report.

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According to city planners, three of the six key objectives of the plan were rated as having a “low” probability of success, with lack of money being a major obstacle. City staff reported a funding gap of approximately $ 230 million, 46 percent of the $ 500 million needed over the next five years to meet the city’s climate goals.

“One big implementation question mark right now is filling that financial gap,” said Matt Horne, City of Vancouver climate policy manager, “and it’s bigger than we expected or planned at this time.”

In 2019, the city council declared a climate emergency. A year later, the city launched a plan that aimed to reduce Vancouver’s emissions in line with the goals of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to keep global warming at 1.5 C.

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A significant part of the plan would be funded by a pollution charge that would be applied to cars using street parking. The parking plan was rejected by the council, however, and Mayor Kennedy Stewart expressed concern that the fees were more likely to fall on low-income renters and families.

There is currently no alternative funding to replace the expected revenue from the parking program.

“How far we can go and how fast we can get there depends on how much we can invest,” Horne said of the city’s climate goals. “It really comes down to a budget challenge.”

Alving Singh, communications director for the mayor’s office, said the mayor is “very confident” that the city could obtain replacement funding from the federal government, noting that Stewart has spoken with both the federal infrastructure minister and the Prime Minister on Financing the City’s Climate Plan.

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Andreanne Doyon, director of the environmental and resource planning program at SFU, said the council’s decision to reject the pollution charge that would help fund the city’s climate plan was a “troubled” sign of the political will “to respond. really to the climate crisis. ” “

“That was something that was completely within their power to charge, a parking fee,” he said. “And that was a way for the city to finance the work they wanted to do.”

Doyon said some climate goals are dependent on provincial mandates, legislation or funding, which can take time and energy to align, making the pieces the city controls even more critical. He pointed to parts of the plan aimed at reducing emissions from buildings as an excellent example of shared jurisdiction.

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The city has created bylaws to ensure that new buildings are constructed with strict emission limits. But modernizing existing homes with heat pumps instead of gas furnaces is “a big piece of the cake,” he said.

“That will come down to funding,” he said, “and that funding comes from the provincial and federal government.”

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However, provincial funding for heat pumps does not include apartments, Doyon said. “How many people in Vancouver live in apartments?”

Horne noted that the city of Vancouver does not have the legal authority to follow all the avenues it could use to reduce emissions.

An option to finance heat pump modifications to Vancouver homes could follow the approach used by the city to finance sidewalk improvements. Assessed property financing is where the city pays for an improvement up front, such as a sidewalk improvement, and then recovers the cost through property taxes. But provincial law does not allow it.

“The province is committed to introducing legislation that allows local governments in the province to implement these types of programs,” Horne said. “I don’t know what the moment is.”

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