Six years ago, I was running the largest membership-based environmental group in Canada. Although it was never easy, it was at that time the most meaningful work I could ever imagine doing: leading a fantastic team to beat incredible odds to make lasting positive change. The last thing on my mind was running for public office—until I heard Gregor Robertson was willing to run for mayor with Vision Vancouver.
Vancouverites have many shared values: a diverse and engaged community, a belief that compassion, opportunity and dignity are fundamental human rights, and an understanding that environment and prosperity are intrinsically linked. What we have lacked in the past under the NPA is a leader willing to stand up for these values and give us a voice, within our city and across the province, country, and world. We now have that in Gregor and Vision Vancouver.
This work has been exemplified by Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan, which lays out a path for a greener, more resilient future for our city and which I have been proud to lead these last six years at a time when it is more urgent than ever. Over 35,000 residents and 180 organizations helped draft the plan. And yet, the NPA have called the Greenest City Action Plan “a waste” and promised to roll it back.
In just three years since the Greenest City Action Plan was adopted, we’ve seen an 18 percent reduction in water use, 40 percent reduction in waste, 10 percent increase in transit, bikes and walking, surpassed 4,000 community garden plots, added 3,200 new green jobs, and seen a 6 percent overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions: it’s hard to see where the waste is. We are on track to meet our 2020 goals and organizations from the UN Environment Program to the Green Building Council have recognized the global significance of our policy achievements.
But our Greenest City Action Plan doesn’t stop there. We are speaking out against the proposal by Kinder Morgan to put 340 more tankers in our waters every year. Gregor and the Vision team recognize that such a massive increase in tar sands oil shipments would pose immense risks to our city.
In standing up for our city, our Vision Vancouver council has appealed to the National Energy Board to consider the effects of climate change in their assessment of the proposal, and the impacts that increased climate change and sea level rises will have on our world-class coastal city.
Reducing congestion is a major issue that can be addressed with improvements to public transit by the city, provincial government and TransLink. A Broadway subway is the key to getting our city moving and we are the only party clearly championing this project. The Broadway Corridor urgently needs a rapid transit solution to keep our city moving, and after reviewing all the options, only a subway has the capacity and efficiency needed to transport people in our rapidly growing region.
World leading environmental policy accomplishments, speaking out against pipeline and tanker expansion, and fighting for better public transit: these huge challenges require strong leadership from a principled council at city hall that is willing to take clear stands on important issues. Our Vision team has demonstrated that we are up for the job and we have made these issues our priority.
We need strong leadership in our cities to speak out for a green future—one that shifts away from fossil fuels and builds urban resilience. Gregor is doing that. We can’t risk electing the NPA who will, at best, sit on the sidelines at a time when we need environmental leadership more than ever.
Re-electing Gregor and Vision in November is a vote for going forward on Vancouver’s environmental leadership. We have accomplished so much together since 2008, but there is still much to do to reach the goals of the Greenest City. Your partnership and support have gotten the city a long way: let’s keep moving forward.