B.C. greenhouse gas emissions stuck at 2007 levels due to gap between road and transit spending

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      A new report says greenhouse gas emissions from automobile use in B.C. have not changed much since 2007.

      That’s because the province continues to spend more money building roads and bridges than what it puts into transit.

      As the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. notes in its report, “This spending imbalance is encouraging higher population growth in car-dependent neighbourhoods.”

      According to the report, the spending gap is not expected to diminish anytime soon.

      Worse, the disparity is projected to widen in the coming few years.

      The report titled ‘Growing Smarter: Cornerstones for Highly Prosperous, Low Carbon Communities’ noted that based on the service plan of the transportation ministry, the province was anticipated to spend a total of $1.8 billion in roads in bridges from 2008 to 2011.

      Transit investments for the same three-year period were projected to amount to $387 million.

      This means that for every dollar on transit, the province is spending $4.50 on roads and bridges.

      Using figures from the same transportation ministry service plan, the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. report noted that from 2017 to 2020, the province is seen to spend $4.7 billion on road infrastructure.

      Transit investments will increase to $731 million for the same period of time.

      However, according to the report, the spending gap will increase to $6.50 dollars for roads compared to a dollar on transit.

      “While road expansion may bring short-term reductions to traffic congestion, increasing road supply is known to induce additional driving demand,” according to the Growing Smarter report. “Spending in road infrastructure also reduces the attractiveness of public transit, and encourages people to live further from employment centres, leading to longer distance commutes.”

      The Real Estate Foundation of B.C. made reference to 2007 in its report because that was the year that the province and municipal governments signed a pledge to work together to address climate change.

      But 10 years after the signing of the B.C. Climate Action Charter, greenhouse gas emissions from “personal transportation remain stuck at 2007 levels”, according to the foundation’s report.

      Reducing emissions from cars is important if the province were to meet its goal to bring down overall emissions by 33 percent compared to 2007 levels.

      According to the report, car use is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in B.C.

      “To effectively meet the Province’s climate action targets, BC residents need more attractive and sustainable transportation choices,” the report stated. “The share of transit and active travel trips must rise. Electric vehicles and car share services will also help to reduce emissions from personal transportation.”