Transportation & the climate crisis: Will you fix it and shift it?

The following was sent to BC provincial leadership candidates and incumbents by the BC/Yukon Regional Office of the Council of Canadians :

Transportation and the Climate Crisis: Will you Fix it and Shift it?

Dear BC Provincial Leadership Candidates and Incumbents:

The BC/Yukon Regional Office of the Council of Canadians invites you to share your
intentions on transportation and climate justice. We ask that you review and respond to the question below by Friday March 25th. Replies can be sent by email: Attn: Ava Waxman, BC/Yukon Regional Office, Council of Canadians
awaxman@canadians.org [700-207 West Hastings St. Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7 604-688-8846]

Some Background:

  • Governments across Canada have been neglecting the maintenance and repair of existing transportation infrastructure, while spending billions on megaprojects such as urban freeways.1 In contrast, fix it first policies put maintenance, repair and safety upgrades first; the focus is put on the potholes we have before the freeway megaprojects we don’t need.
  • Transportation is the largest sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in BC, and transportation emissions have been increasing rapidly, largely due to government spending on new and expanded roadways in urban areas, combined with the neglect of low-carbon transportation modes.2 For example, in 2008/2009 the BC provincial government spent over $2.2 billion on roads and bridges, up from $1.2 billion in 2001/2002.3 Much of this was spent on roadway expansions. In contrast, the provincial government reported spending only $660 million on transit and nothing on BC railways in 2008/2009.4
  • Good public transit and walkable communities are very important for social justice, particularly now that the age of cheap oil is over. 5, 6
  • Shifting public investment to efficient modes such as public transit and passenger rail is essential to reduce BC’s GHG emissions 33% by 2020 as required by legislation.

The Question:
Will you significantly shift BC provincial government spending from roadway
expansions to the maintenance, repair and safety upgrades to existing roadways, and
investments in low carbon transportation such as transit, highway bus and
passenger rail?

1 E.g. http://www.altuscapitalplanning.com/pdf/042408_Silent_Deficit.pdf; http://livableregion.ca/
2 e.g. Eric Doherty (2006) Transportation for a Sustainable Region. http://livableregion.ca/pdf/
Transport_for_a_Sustainable_Region.pdf ; (2007) Cooking the Books, Cooking the Planet. http://
livableregion.ca/pdf/Cooking_the_Books_Report_Final_05-02-07.pdf
3 Transport Canada (2010) Transportation in Canada. Table G7 P A55.
4 Transit spending reported to be $660 million in gross provincial expenditures and $221 million in local
expenditures. Transport Canada (2010) Transportation in Canada. Table G7 P A58, Table G7 p A53
5 Robert D. Bullard (2005) “All Transit Is Not Created Equal” Race, poverty & the environment. winter 2005/
2006. www.urbanhabitat.org/node/306
6 E.g. Jeff Rubin (2009) Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller.

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