I want to start this blog with a definition of leadership. This is a key attribute that I believe is missing in politics today.
Leadership: The action of leading a group of people or an organization. In simple words, leadership is about taking risks and challenging the status quo. Leaders motivate others to achieve something new and better.
"To take risks, challenge status quo and motivate others to achieve something new and better".....action that our BC Government is not taking, especially when it comes to addressing the climate crisis and reducing emissions. They are not leading at all. We already know what needs to be done and as citizens, we are anxiously awaiting the implementation of these new policies and systems so our communities can start seeing benefits. We are volunteering, applying for grants, writing letters, and hosting fundraisers with few results. That's because the government, our government, the people we elected to lead us are not doing their job.
Instead of following the numerous plans developed over the years and actually reducing poverty, reducing emissions, protecting watersheds, or ensuring access to healthy food, our government wants your ideas. Again. We already know what needs to be done - we need affordable housing, living wages, accessible healthcare, food security, clean air, safe drinking water, connected active transportation and frequent public transit. Our government should already be building housing and asking us where. Our government should be mandating living wages and asking employers how to support that. Our government should be paying to train more doctors and asking us how many. Our government should be addressing food security and asking us how much. Our government should already be building active and public transportation infrastructure and asking us where it needs to run and how frequent the service should be. These actions should already be budgeted for.
It disingenuous to keep asking the same questions when you already have the answers. It's a stall tactic. It shows a lack of courage. These are all non-partisan issues and as such, all of us, can and should demand better.
So, imagine my disappointment, as the VP of the West Kootenay Cycling Coalition, when I received another request for input. The Government of British Columbia wants our input on the Clean Transportation Action Plan (CTAP).
The purpose of the CTAP is to identify the next set of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector by 27-32% by 2030. We already know what those actions are. We don't need help identifying them. We need help implementing them. Here is my response to the BC Government’s request for help to identify those actions:
Dear Clean BC,
A brief introduction, my name is Solita Work and I am VP of the West Kootenay Cycling Coalition (WKCC). Our mandate is to make active transportation awareness, safety and infrastructure prioritized. Active transport is the most effective means to reduce transportation emissions and coupled with public transit could transform our transportation system if it was prioritized over driving. In addition to lower emissions, we would enjoy better health, a more connected community and inclusive transportation that could meet everyone's needs affordably and safely.
I resent that I must spend time now preparing this document when it should already be very obvious to the BC Government what the best measures would be to reduce emissions. This request is a further delay in taking action. Instead of showing leadership and focusing on the long term benefits that BC residents would gain, your government has chosen to waste more precious time and money. Although I have already provided feedback numerous times, I will respond again with my recommendations for the most prudent actions that this government should take to meet Clean BC targets.
Ideally, the BC Government will mandate that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure prioritize active and public transportation over driving immediately and make it a directive to consult with communities going forward to ensure best results.
"Transportation is the LARGEST source of GHG emissions in B.C. and emissions in this sector are rising. The integrated nature of the transportation system in our economy means that decisions we make on how we move goods and people, what vehicles and modes we use on and off road across all sectors, how we design our communities, and how we run our businesses, all influence transportation emissions."
Reduce Distance Traveled and Increase Mode Shift
What are the key Provincial policy actions (one to three) that need to be considered to achieve the Vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT) reduction and mode share targets, including in relation to the built environment/community design?
- Reducing distances traveled is key to achieving a reduction in vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT). This means that policies must also take into account why people are travelling. How far do people live from work? Can more affordable housing be provided closer? How far do people need to travel to buy food or see a doctor? Can some services and amenities be decentralized so options are closer to where people live? How far does food and consumer goods need to be transported? Could more local food production and manufacturing be supported by the government? A shift from reliance on centralized services to more self-sufficiency within communities is necessary to reduce distances travelled. All actions taken must be viewed through a climate change lense and must address how transport is connected to land use (housing and buildings) and waste (air, food and water).
- Shifting to more efficient modes is probably the single most important consideration to meet emissions reduction targets. These modes include walking, cycling, buses and passenger rail. Infrastructure for active modes needs to take priority as well as an increase in frequency of service for public modes.
- Adopting zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) is the lowest priority and should favour ride sharing and public transport over personal vehicles - car shares, buses, combining service and ride sharing.
What are the barriers, if any, in achieving these targets?
Lack of safe infrastructure for active transport, lack of neighbourhood amenities.
• Lack of frequency and options in regards to public transit.
• Lack of incentives to encourage citizens to use other options. For example, offering a low interest, micro loan program for any BC resident that wants to purchase an e-bike.
What are the key actions your organization or sector can do to help achieve the VKT reduction and mode share targets, including actions in relation to the built environment/community design?
- Advocating for and actively implementing multi-use pathways connecting communities to amenities. We recently received a $50K grant from Active Transport Canada to conduct a feasibility study on a separated pathway connecting Nelson to Castlegar. As soon as this study is complete, we will be working to implement the infrastructure. We will be pushing for policy change demanding that BC Government implement active transport pathways through the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. It is frustrating that volunteers have to spend countless hours navigating outdated policy and applying for grants when leadership could just shift spending priorities to active and public modes now.
- Participating in public engagements, offering innovative ideas. We will continue to advocate for active and public modes and make suggestions when we see opportunities for improvements or see a need.
- Assessing existing infrastructure and considering how it can be repurposed and better utilized. For example, community halls in rural areas could be upgraded into transit hubs. These halls are under used, are located centrally along transport routes within communities and have existing infrastructure such as washrooms, parking and meeting areas. Libraries, coffee shops and hostels could be incorporated within these buildings. There is no need to build new bus stops when community halls can be repurposed cost effectively. Another example would be to convert existing passing lanes on highways into separated pathways. With less drivers, these lanes will not be needed and can easily and cheaply be converted to active transport infrastructure.
Adopt Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV)s
What are the key Provincial policy actions (one to three) that need to be considered to achieve the ZEV targets?
- ride sharing
- EV car shares and electrify public transport
What are the barriers, if any, in achieving these targets?
- lack of infrastructure
- lack of funds and/or availability
- outdated policy prioritizing driving and parking
What are the key actions your organization or sector can do to help achieve the ZEV targets?
- Build more safe, separated infrastructure. Studies show the number one reason more people do not use active modes is because they do not feel safe.
- Advocate for e-bike share and micro-loan program for purchase. See City of Nelson’s innovative program.
- Advocate for policy updates and offer incentives to shift modes. For example, eliminate parking from all new multi-family housing developments and require that developers install car-shares or provide free e-bikes with each unit.
Use Clean Fuels
What are the key Provincial policy actions (one to three) that need to be considered to achieve the low carbon fuel target?
To achieve the low carbon fuel target, a more holistic approach will be necessary. Land use (houses are buildings) as well as waste (air, food and water) and how these systems are connected to transportation must be addressed, some key considerations include:
- Relocalization of food and consumer goods production and manufacturing. Enact A Food Sovereignty Act such as the state of Maine has done.
- Funding and/or reprioritization of transportation funds to the lowest emitters. Example of shifting priorities would be the addition of toll roads.
- Transform community halls into hubs with amenities close to home reducing need to travel. Investment in healthcare and housing. Ride sharing.
What are the barriers, if any, in achieving this target?
- Outdated policy, Government departments working in silos.
- Lack of funding, lack of infrastructure, lack of amenities. Prioritization of polluting modes.
- Disconnected community, poor communications with citizens.
What are the key actions your organization or sector can do to help achieve the low carbon fuel target?
- Encourage self-sufficiency.
- Champion new infrastructure.
- Demand policy updated/reprioritization of budgets for lowest emitters.
Which of the actions you have identified in questions 1-3 should be prioritized and why?
- Reprioritization of transportation budgets away from driving and into active transportation and public transit.
- Encouraging and funding car sharing/ride sharing. For example, in rural areas combine school, commuter, mail delivery and small food producer distribution into one bus service. See Swiss Post Bus.
- Update policy/reprioritize funding and create incentive for lowest emitters.
Do you have any suggestions to help improve affordability and equity in British Columbia as part of the Climate Transportation Action Plan (CTAP)?
- Prioritize active and public transport to all public buildings and spaces.
- Eliminate parking in all multi-family dwellings - offer car share or free e-bikes instead (as mentioned above). This would address affordability eliminating the need for the major cost of purchasing and maintaining a private vehicle.
- Create incentives for switching to active and public transport. Many people can't drive. More options would address equity issues.
- Encourage ride sharing across sectors in rural areas - schools, shift work, postage, farm production (as mentioned above). This would help build community which also addresses equity issues.
I am providing this input as a volunteer. I do not get paid to do this work. On behalf of all the BC residents who are volunteering their precious time and resources to make our communities better, I am asking Clean BC to start taking the necessary action we’ve been asking for and will continue to ask for. Please demonstrate good leadership and make our efforts worthwhile.
VP, West Kootenay Cycling Coalition