Saturday, September 27, 2008

Metro Vancouver Future of the Region Sustainability Discussions

Part Three of a Three Part Series

To pick up where we last left off, the Metro Vancouver small group participants proposed these additional solutions:

Sustainable Future Road Transport
  • Externalities need to be considered in the calculation of the benefit analysis of transit versus highway development.
  • There needs to be incentives to encourage people to do the "right thing" - and for governments to make the best choices in developing future road-based transit.
Impacts of Peak Oil & Rising Energy Costs
  • Energy costs are increasing dramatically - the price of oil has doubled in the two years that these dialogues have been ongoing.
  • Future energy impacts on the planning of the future infrastructure development need to be calculated when options are chosen.
Reducing Reliance on Road Travel
  • Many participants urged the introduction of a range of road pricing options and the use of incentives to reduce reliance on road travel.
  • Investment in transit infrastructure and extension of service was frequently raised in discussion as a key element in future models.
Environmental Impacts of Transportation
  • Transportation was widely viewed as a major environmental impact in the region that must be managed to mitigate potential harm.
  • The use of single occupant cars was viewed as a very poor business case for the economy, use of regional infrastructure and the environment. Stimulating new more efficient transportation models may be more environmentally sustainable than accommodating the current model.
  • Making communities more compact would reduce greenhouse gases by making transportation more efficient.
Role of the Region
  • Planning for the region must include strategies that extend beyond artificial political or administrative boundaries.
  • Strong leadership is needed to undertake true regional planning. The Province needs to give regions the power to truly plan their own sustainable regional strategies.
Personal Commentary

I'm not sure how many of these dialogues I have attended over the years, including several sustainability workshops the Township of Langley has held leading up to our Sustainability Charter. I do know that after putting forth some of these ideas myself, along with my fellow participants I've walked away knowing that we have assembled some worth initiatives.

Somewhere between these excellent Metro Vancouver discussions and dialogues, and the Provincial Legislature, Provincial Ministries, Parliament, Federal Ministries, etc. is a wide chasm that never seems to bridged. The will of the people never translates into much political will. Why is that? Aren't our elected officials placed in these positions of power specifically to represent us? I guess it is all just a myth of our democracy, as I never see these great ideas implemented in any major way. Maybe its time that Metro Vancouver the regional dialogues to have more teeth in the process. This is what TransLink is meant to do in the area of transportation planning, but it fails miserably because of political forces outside each region, as well as a board that is not accountable to the people.

I believe there is a good case for assertive regional planning and a structure to ensure implementation and that with all of our creativity we can find a way to create a viable and workable structure to do just that. What do you think?

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