Vancouver Council to Vote This Week on First Step Towards Pricing for Downtown Mobility

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It’s the most ambitious plan to fight climate change Vancouver has ever seen – but it could also be the most controversial.The city council is expected to vote on Thursday on the next policy steps to achieve the stated goals when it unanimously declared a climate emergency in 2019.

Among the changes being considered are pricing for inner-city mobility, a city-wide parking permit system, additional carbon pollution on non-electric vehicles, and limits on carbon use. in the construction of new buildings.

Staff say the proposed changes are necessary to meet the climate goals the council voted for, including carbon neutrality by 2050 and two-thirds of city trips made by active transportation by 2030.

“It’s important to move all of these big moves forward, not just one or two,” said Gil Kelley, the city’s chief planner.

“Without it, we won’t be able to do it. ”

With more than 75 speakers registered to make their case at the board, it is possible that a vote will not take place until November 19.

The 371-page report can be read here.

Mobility pricing

The idea of ​​mobility pricing – also called road pricing – in the city center is the most controversial of the proposals.

The basic concept is to load vehicles entering or exiting the “Metro Core” area, which is defined as anything north of 16th Avenue, east of Burrard Street, and west of. Clark Drive.

City staff said there was a need to encourage transit, cycling and walking options, and said program funds would be used to improve these modes of transportation throughout the city.

However, any change would require two more council votes – including one after the 2022 municipal election – and provincial government approval, with the first implementation being 2025.

“A lot of the next and a half years will be spent with residents and businesses,” said Dale Bracewell, director of transportation planning in Vancouver.

Other mayors in the regions showed limited enthusiasm for mobility pricing when it was studied by TransLink in 2017 and 2018. Several councilors asked if it made sense for Vancouver to explore mobility pricing as the rest of Metro Vancouver was not, but staff said it would be similar to other places the concept has been introduced.

“It could be a pilot case for the region,” Bracewell said.

“All reference cities [like London and Stockholm] started with a downtown model. Some have stayed, but others have grown from there. “

The “Metro Core,” as defined by the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver, has long been defined as the area north of 16th Avenue, east of Burrard Street and west of Clark Drive. (Downtown Vancouver Association)

Is a regional approach necessary?

Groups like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade have criticized the highway pricing proposal.

“The proposed pricing system for mobility could exacerbate” the evasion to the suburbs “for large and small businesses,” wrote Bridgitte Anderson, CEO of the chamber of commerce.

“To avoid unintended consequences that could worsen bottlenecks and emissions in Metro Vancouver, mobility pricing cannot be implemented in a vacuum. ”

Alex Boston, executive director of SFU’s Renewable Cities program, said a Vancouver-only approach could increase congestion and carbon in some areas.

But he said more analysis is needed and the comprehensive plan is needed for Vancouver.

« [It’s] a decisive effort that demonstrates the seriousness that every level of government should take to fight climate action, ”he wrote.

The total estimated cost of the plan is $ 500 million, of which $ 270 has already been budgeted.

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