Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Protecting and preserving the environment. Making progress in Metro Vancouver.

Today, I’ll be continuing with the review of our regional district’s 2015 annual report of the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy. I posted about creating compact urban areas last week, and supporting a sustainable economy yesterday. The third goal of the growth strategy is to protect the environment and respond to climate change.

One of the primary reasons why we have a regional growth strategy today is because of the rapid urban expansion of our region up until the 1970s. With single-family housing creeping up mountains, and with green space and farmland being paved over, people had enough. If you look at our region today, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of remaining sensitive ecological areas are in parts of the region that were urbanized after the 1970s.

Human health and ecological health are linked, so it is important that we protect our environment. The following map shows sensitive ecosystems in our region. You’ll notice that the City of Vancouver doesn’t have much.

Map of sensitive ecosystems in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

There were 167 species in Metro Vancouver listed in the BC Conservation Data Centre as of 2011. In that same year, we had 131,819 hectares of conservation and recreation areas regionally. This grew to 132,671 hectares in 2015 due to changes in regional land-use designations in Coquitlam, Richmond, and Delta.

Changes in the Conservation and Recreation regional land-use designation between 2011 and 2015. Select chart to enlarge.

Over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions come from on-road transportation and buildings. The following maps are from 2010, and show per square kilometre and per resident GHG emissions within the urban containment boundary. This map will be updated in the next few years.

It’s no surprise that White Rock, Langley City, and New Westminster which have better transits service, and a more diverse housing mix have a lower GHG footprint than Delta or the Township of Langley which have poor transit service with a larger portion of their population living in single-family housing.

Maps of per square kilometre and per resident, residential buildings and on-road transportation GHG emissions within the Urban Containment Boundary in 2010. Select maps to enlarge.

District energy systems provide neighbourhood-scale energy distribution that is generally more efficient than heating and cooling buildings individually. Since 2011, our region has seen these systems expand from 4 to 7. Downtown Surrey is the only area in the South of Fraser were a district energy system is being built at the moment.

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