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SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE AND REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION TASK FORCE

February 22, 2010

DISCUSSION PAPER ON SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION IN METRO VANCOUVER

(As Approved by the Board of Directors on December 10, 2009)

 

Context

The purpose of The Vancouver Board of Trade’s (The Board)Sustainability Committee is to understand the trends and forces regarding sustainability and to develop Board policy on sustainability issues.2

The purpose of The Vancouver Board of Trade’s (The Board) Regional Transportation Task Force is to develop and implement strategies to pro-actively support transportation infrastructure that maintains and improves the economic viability of the Greater Vancouver Area.3

 

This paper has been prepared to reflect the views of both of these groups in terms of achieving a sustainable transportation system in our region—defined as one that:


  • Is affordable, operates efficiently, offers choice of transport mode, and supports a vibrant economy;
  • Allows the basic access needs of individuals and societies to be met safely and in a manner consistent with human and ecosystem health, and with equity within and between generations; and
  • Limits emissions and waste within the planet's ability to absorb them, minimizes consumption of non-renewable resources, limits consumption of renewable resources to the sustainable yield level, reuses and recycles its components, and minimizes the use of land and the production of noise.4

BC’s rich supply of resources and primary goods and Vancouver’s position as a gateway to the Pacific has shaped the economic and employment structure of the Metro Vancouver region. While there is a growing proportion of secondary products being exported and a growing service sector providing employment, the strength of BC’s economy and job market is still largely dependent on the export of primary goods. The state and performance of the region’s transportation system therefore play in a crucial role in determining the strength of the BC economy.5

Meanwhile, the global city rankings produced from the most recent Worldwide Quality of Living survey ranked Vancouver fourth worldwide6. While this is a commendable achievement, as the region grows there will be a great challenge in maintaining this renowned high quality of living and attractiveness for existing and future business owners and residents.

Vehicles account for 30% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Metro Vancouver region7. Reducing these GHG emissions and meeting our national, provincial and local climate change targets will help reduce our global climate change impact. Vehicles in the region account for 35% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, a smog-forming pollutant7. Improved air quality through reductions of this and other air pollutants will help reduce the related human health impacts. To achieve this requires a transportation system based on a region-wide, integrated, and balanced approach at considering the economy, society and the environment as the population grows and the economy develops.

This document outlines the Board’s Sustainability Policy8 framework and provides a number of general principles and proposed Board of Trade actions that support a transportation system that balances the needs of the economy, the environment and the community.

Once approved, this paper will support the Board in commenting on or responding to new transportation-related policies, regulations and other initiatives at the municipal, regional, provincial and national levels.

Sustainability Policy Framework

The Board of Trade Sustainability Policy states the following definitions of sustainable development and sustainability:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs…”

“...Sustainability is broadly recognized as maintaining a balance between economy, environment, and community. The needs of society are met through ensuring this balance: a prosperous business sector able to meet the demands of the market and provide jobs (economy); a healthy ecosystem, reliably providing clean air, water, food and natural resources (environment); and a healthy, educated population with appropriate governance to ensure collaboration and peaceful co-existence (community).”

 

The International Association of Public Transport9 provides the following insight on the relationship between sustainable development and transportation:

“Mobility is our fundamental necessity of 21st century living and brings access to primary services and leisure. But today, current patterns of provision and consumption of mobility are unsustainable and cities all over the world suffer from high levels of traffic related congestion, pollution and the degradation of communities and social dysfunction… Addressing the issue of climate change is a key topic for all, and for transport in particular. At present CO2 (one of the seven greenhouse gas emissions) from transport are growing despite improvements in technology and fuels mainly due to the sheer increase of the number of trips made...”


Principles of Sustainable Transportation and Mobility in Metro Vancouver

There is a need to achieve a more sustainable transportation system for businesses and individuals in Metro Vancouver. This means region-wide progress in reducing non-commercial, single-occupant vehicle-related congestion and the associated harmful economic, environmental and social impacts. It is recognized that the personal automobile is currently the dominant form of transport in Metro Vancouver10, and that this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. There are, however, significant opportunities to make more efficient use of automobiles (and automobile related infrastructure such as roadways and bridges), to encourage the use of other modes and to develop vehicle technologies which pollute less.

The following actions by The Board facilitate this progress:


  1. Engaging all levels of government in transportation planning to:
    ensure land use policies preserve and establish industrial areas and ensure that the associated economic activities are in urban cores11,
    ensure the sustained and efficient mobility of goods and people over the long-term,
    ensure the  interconnectivity of urban and commercial hubs both within the region and with transportation networks extending outside the region, and
    ensure an equitable distribution is maintained of transport-related cost and benefits.
  2. Placing greater emphasis on building “complete communities” where people do not need to travel long distances by automobile or public transit to reach workplace, education, recreation or shopping destinations.
  3. Encouraging consideration of non-conventional financing and delivery of road and transit projects (including public/private partnerships) to ensure transportation improvements are delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  4. Encouraging consideration of the use of marginal social cost pricing (an international growing trend) to control vehicle traffic volumes, to raise revenues and ultimately to help sustain the transportation infrastructure needs of a growing region. The pricing must account for the externalities of public transportation, for example the air quality, noise, emissions, and business impacts/productivity effects of relieving congestion.
  5. Encouraging a strategic expansion of the High-Priority Vehicle (HPV12) lane network where appropriate in Metro Vancouver.
  6. Supporting increased frequency, quality and access of transit service, particularly in corridors already congested with transit riders, to retain existing riders and to attract new ones.
  7. Supporting active transportation modes such as cycling and walking, to promote good health, to help preserve the environment, and to support a good quality of life .
  8. Supporting tele-commuting, carpooling, car-sharing and other transportation demand management measures14 to reduce the volume of commuter/peak hour trips made.
  9. Supporting the vibrant and growing B.C. clean transportation technology sector.

When planning new transportation initiatives, there is a need to consider and evaluate the incremental business, environmental, and social/community impacts. This means region-wide engagement with the public and the business community in the consideration of:

  1. Potential incremental impacts on the revenue, costs or viability of existing businesses or the ability to attract new business operations;
  2. Potential incremental effects to the state or health of the land, air, sea, waterways, and wildlife; and
  3. Potential incremental effects on the health, well-being, safety and security of the users of the transportation network, the local community, and the region’s residents.

It is also important to measure short and long-term effects in order to improve the planning and decision-making process at all levels in the future.

The Vancouver Board of Trade encourages its members, other businesses and all levels of government to adopt processes, practices and policies supporting a transportation network that supports economic growth and protects the environment and all members of society.

The Board of Trade recommends that the business community input be sought in discussions of sustainable transportation to ensure the necessary balance of economic, environmental, and social considerations.

The Board urges that government should recognize the need for and support long-range transportation planning for the Metro Vancouver region, particularly in and around urban centers.



  1. Sustainability is defined above in Principles of Sustainable Transportation and Mobility in Metro Vancouver.
  2. From the Terms of Reference of the Sustainability Committee approved by The Board of Trade Executive on September 10, 2009.
  3. From the Terms of Reference of the Regional Transportation Task Force approved by The Board of Trade Executive on October 14, 2009.
  4. Definition of a sustainable transportation system sourced from: http://www.centreforsustainabletransportation.org
  5. “Economic Analysis of Investment in a Major Commercial Transportation System for the Greater Vancouver Region”, report by Delcan created for the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council Report, July 2003.
  6. The survey was conducted by Mercer and considered 38 key quality-of-living determinants including: economic environment, political and social environment, public services such as health, education, recreation and transportation, housing, and natural environment. Vancouver was placed 4th behind Zurich, Vienna and Geneva in 2008. No other North American city was ranked among the top 10 cities in 2008.
  7. Source: 2005 Lower Fraser Valley Air Emissions Inventory published by Metro Vancouver in December 2007 (www.metrovancouver.org). The percentages given include emissions from light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles, but do not include GHG emissions from marine and non-road sources. Other principal smog-forming pollutants include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fine particulates (PM), sulphur oxides (SOx) and ammonia (NH3).
  8. On February 11, 2009 The Board’s Directors approved the Sustainability Policy submitted by the Sustainability Committee.
  9. http://www.uitp.org/Public-Transport/sustainabledevelopment
  10. 50% of commuters to the Vancouver Metropolitan Core commute by private automobile, either as driver or as a passenger. This compares to 35% who take transit and 15% who cycle or walk. (Ref. 2006 Statistic from Transport 2040)
  11. Business Parks are growing four times faster than urban centres. If current trends continue, employment locations will become more dispersed, and it will be difficult to provide transportation options that are both cost effective and attractive. (Ref. Transport 2040)
  12. High-Priority Vehicles include high-occupancy vehicles (HOVs), buses and commercial vehicles.
  13. Active transportation is defined as any form of human-powered transportation. Active transportation modes are fundamental elements of more sustainable urban transportation systems. They are the least polluting, most equitable and most affordable ways of getting around cities. See Transportation Association of Canada sponsored project “Active Transportation: Making it Work in Canadian Communities.” http://www.tac-atc.ca/english/projects/active.cfm).
  14. See also http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/pau-uap/fitness/active_trans.htm
  15. Transportation Demand Management “describes strategies and programs that are designed to influence the demand for and choice of transportation services by the public, in order to improve or maintain the mobility of persons and goods…” (2007 Gateway Council report "Environmental Scan of TDM Measures”).

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