Will drivers have to pay for tolls, parking permits in Vancouver? Report released ahead of council
VANCOUVER -- A report that will be before city council next week suggests drivers could end up paying more under Vancouver's Climate Emergency Action Plan.
The 371-page report compiled by the city's general managers of planning and engineering services contains several recommendations for "how we move forward," including a few meant to offset the impact of vehicles.
The report contains five "big moves" meant to address the "urgent threat proposed by climate change."
It was prompted by a move in April 2019 by council to approve a climate emergency response with targets to guide its efforts.
The goals are as follows, and all have the target of 2030:
- Two-thirds of all trips are made on foot, bike or transit;
- Half of the kilometres driven in Vancouver are made by zero-emission vehicles;
- Carbon pollution from buildings is cut in half from 2007 levels; and
- Emissions from new buildings is reduced by 40 per cent compared to 2018.
Among the suggestions outlined in the report released ahead of the Nov. 3 meeting is that the city consider mobility pricing.
“It looks like city staff in Vancouver have declared war on the car and it's drivers that are going to get nuked,” said Kris Sims, spokesperson for the Canadian Tax Payers Federation. “They want to build a little wall of tolls so that people accessing their city, who dare drive past it, get nailed every single time. It’s really unfair.”
Depending on the model used to roll out the program, the city may have the authority to implement tolls on its own. Some possibilities would require the province to enable the legislation.
“This is a major slap in the face to those folks who couldn’t afford it in the first place, and are now commuting from Maple Ridge, Port Moody and down the Fraser valley and now even some folks commuting from Squamish,” said Sims.
Still, the report suggests that to meet the city's targets, this pricing should be implemented within the next five years.
“We have a five-to-10-year window here, we don’t have time to monkey around anymore,” said Lawrence Frank, an urban planning and public health professor at UBC. “We’re going to need to really, really ratchet down the GHG emissions. These moves, the big moves, need to be very aggressive.”
The report suggests pricing would focus on an area it calls the "Metro Core, where there are significant existing opportunities to walk, bike and use transit, for both residents of Vancouver and those visiting or coming to work in the city from the wider region."
The Metro Core refers to an area bordered by the Vancouver waterfront to the north, Burrard Street to the west, Clark Drive to the east and 16th Avenue to the south.
Frank told CTV News there are both a health and environmental benefits to this plan.
“We have to get over the fact that we can’t go on living exactly the way we have,” he said.
Exactly how much drivers may have to pay is unclear, as the plan only propose some type of model be developed.
At the same time, the city would be looking to expand the bike and pedestrian pathways, improve transit service and promote flexible work options.
Additionally, under the heading "The Game Changer Action," the report suggests requiring permits on all residential streets in the city.
"The move to residential parking permits across Vancouver is predominantly about managing on-street parking demand, allowing us to eliminate parking minimums in new construction and helping shift some of our road space from the dedicated storage of vehicles to higher-value uses," the report says.
“Parking is really the definition of access,” said Frank. “Until you control that, you’re missing a key tool.”
He described how the space usually used for street parking is being used in different ways, such as for restaurants, during the pandemic.
“As long as we make it easiest to drive and you can pull right up to the door of your building, a lot of people won’t do anything else,” Frank said.
The city could add a carbon pollution surcharge on parking permits for new, "higher-priced gas and diesel vehicles." The surcharge would be added to residential parking permits, and would be meant as a way to discourage those vehicles and make electric cargo bikes and zero-emissions freight vehicles more attractive.
Among the related proposals are the expansion of public and private charging stations for electric vehicles, and incentives for electric fleet vehicles.
“This isn’t that harsh. It can be done,” said Frank. “You can’t expect to achieve major shifts in travel behaviour that are needed for major reductions in GHG emissions, without significant changes.”
There are 19 actions outlined in the report on "how we move" and "how we build/renovate" to meet the targets outlined.
“We really hope that this is something the elected members of council look at and shut down,” said Sims. “These sorts of big-spending, price-gouging … ideas need to be shelved, especially during the COVID-19 economic crisis.”
Read the full report on the City of Vancouver's website.