Andrea Reimer: Let’s keep making Vancouver an environmental leader
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.
Oct 4, 2014 at 12:01pm
Since Vision took power Vision's developer supporters have been building forests of energy inefficient air conditioned glass towers. This type of construction continues to push Vancouver back into the dark ages of energy sustainability. Vision has allowed the wholesale removal of street trees in front of their developer supporters construction projects and only aggressive neighborhood push back prevented the famous West End tulip tree from falling to make room for yet another condo development. Vision has toyed with turning green space such as Langara golf course over to developers to build more energy inefficient towers. Vision talk green, but every single action since taking power has been to make Vancouver less sustainable and to increase profits for their developer supporters. We have an opportunity in November to remove these greenwashing hypocrites from office once and for all.
Oct 4, 2014 at 2:54pm
Vision can do nothing about the pipeline. It's a federal issue, not a municipal one. It's funny to see Gregor Robertson and Vision continually talk about their efforts to stop it, when they are completely powerless. Sure, you might not agree with it, but don't act like you can do anything about it.
Let's talk about something that affects everyone, which is housing costs. The cost of owning a detached home has gone through the roof, rents are much higher, and many estimates say that a lot of condos in Vancouver are empty. It's funny how this doesn't seem to concern Vision at all.
Oct 4, 2014 at 4:34pm
Green city as in money would be more appropriate!
Oct 4, 2014 at 8:25pm
Andrea Reimer above, 4th paragraph : "In just three years ... 40 percent reduction in waste ... and ... 6 percent overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."
First statement is untrue as Reimer did acknowledge after I challenged her -- July 22 private email:
"The 40% figure needs some clarification attached to it: The 40% reduction is for single family homes only."
Note the insufficient for purpose -- euphemistic -- employment of the word "clarification".
Second part of Reimer statement quoted above: >>6 percent overall reduction ... emissions<< could also benefit from significant "clarification" (employing the word In the Reimer sense).
Vancouver's number for greenhouse gases, a bit over four tonnes per capita, are so called "core emissions" only, a small subset of Vancouverite's total per capita green house gas emissions responsibility.
In no City publication does Vancouver make clear that excluded from its four ton plus number are marine, rail and aviation emissions and the embodied emissions in food, services, and goods imported into the city, sometimes from a few kilometers outside city boundaries (like cement produced in Delta).
Seattle's claim for total per capita emission responsibility is about 25 tonnes CO2e, Again, Vancouver, a city with a similar standard of living and life style and population, claims a bit over four tonnes.
Bill Rees, co-inventor of the ecological foot print, writes: "The way Vancouver presents itself is misleading,”
Oddly Vancouver's green hype is essentially never challenged by mainstream media -- the only reasonably well circulated challenge: Peter Ladner's column in BIV, July 15, 2012, "Tilting at Mountain Windmills ... Green Hype".
For a quasi academic challenge -- and an accusation that dishonesty is endemic in Vancouver -- google >Greenwash Petrie Vancouver<
Oct 5, 2014 at 10:12am
The green platitudes or Reimer and her colleagues serve to cloak what has really gone on under Vision, the destruction of any sort of livability in the city due to skyrocketing property values.
Oct 5, 2014 at 12:30pm
I look at the haze over vancouver everyday and sit by the unswimmable english bay wondering about how green we are?
Oct 5, 2014 at 1:03pm
"Let keep making Vancouver an environmental leader" -- as in creating a congested, polluted mess on West 4th Avenue for the benefit of the few and to the detriment of the many!
Oct 5, 2014 at 1:37pm
TAE FSome inconvenient facts:
1) The primary improvement to the environment in this region since Vision Vancouver took office, the reduction in greenhouse gases documented by the federal government (and cited above by Andrea Reimer as an achievement of her party) , is the result of the carbon tax passed by Premier Gordon Campbell. This pioneering, revenue-neutral tax has resulted in a 16% decline in fuel use in BC over 6 years in spite of continued growth in the economy and population. The carbon tax was opposed by the opposition NDP caucus of the day - including an MLA named Gregor Robertson.
- There is nothing even vaguely "green" about Vision's plans to build a new incinerator for the city's garbage and truck the garbage to it.
- Vision has doubled the city's total debt over what it was 10 years ago, to $1.8 Billion. Gregor proposes to spend another billion or so on infrastructure, including social housing and road work (along with more bike lanes) that will further increase congestion. This spending will further increase debt by $400 million and push debt servicing costs to almost 10% of the city budget. Until the new debt is paid off, the fiscal options of future councils could be severely limited.
- The signature plank in Gregor's platform, the Broadway subway, isn't a subway at all. Regional city governments will not contribute to burying the line and building underground stations between VCC and Arbutus. Nor will federal or provincial sources cover this $400-600 million cost, unless some new, unknown pot of money magically becomes available. This cost falls on Vancouver, and we have already borrowed too much to fund it (see above).
- Gregor's wonderful city-wide composting program has indeed cut garbage volumes. It has also led to a huge increase in the city's rat population. Rats are out of control in many allotments, parks and neighbourhoods. There have always been rats in Vancouver, but not like this.
- Ms. Reimer speaks with a straight face of Vision's plan to "reduce congestion". This after 6 years of shutting transit lanes, permanently blocking curb lanes by extending sidewalks at corners and building miles of underused bike lanes throughout the downtown core. The results: gridlock throughout the day even though traffic has actually decreased.
I've reached the limit I can type here. VOTE VISION OUT. ANYONE BUT GREGOR.
Oct 5, 2014 at 2:20pm
Was Reimer with the Green Party before? They probably just created Vision Vancouver to win.
Oct 6, 2014 at 5:45pm
Could we please vote some actual Greens into power at city hall and end this marketing sham perpetrated by Vision. His green branding is complete bunk and may be pretty as Gregor's smile, but has absolutely no substance. All those tear downs on the west side? How green is that? Glass concrete towers and constant construction, not so green. Nice marketing ploy but Vision is ruining our city, and only out to help its developer friends who fund their party machine. A million plus a year for PR staff and no access for press and delayed FOI? Shameful. You all deserve to be thrown out on your butts! Shame on you and your sham of a civic party. Worst thing to happen to this city in my lifetime.