Vancouver, Canada’s first BreatheLife city, is in a “friendly but fierce” competition to be the world’s “greenest city”, with a strong focus on good urban planning that favours zero-emission transportation.
Fortunately, it seems to have a head start in the mobility stakes. The port city has grown in the past 15 years to over 630,000 citizens today, yet the number of trips made by fossil fuelled car in Vancouver has been declining while those taken by walking, biking, transit and zero-emission vehicles have been rising.
As vehicle emissions are among the city’s biggest domestic sources of air pollution, the city knows that maintaining this trend is crucial to keeping up its high living standards— but the challenge is on: in the next 30 years, the recently-crowned 6th most liveable city in the world expects to welcome 130,000 new residents and 90,000 new jobs.
Vancouver is rising to the challenge by putting in place targets supported by science-based, stakeholder-driven strategy plans with implementation details.
Its Transportation 2040 plan spells out how the City intends to get the majority of Vancouverites moving by bike, foot or public transport by 2040. Vancouver achieved its 2020 target to have half of all trips taken in the city to be by foot, bike, and public transport ahead of schedule, in 2015. By 2040, this proportion should rise to at least two-thirds of all trips, with the remaining car trips being mostly zero-emission.
Vancouver plans to make the remaining driving trips emission-free begin with its EV Ecosystem Strategy. This strategy details how the City intends to lead efforts to jumpstart an electric vehicle ecosystem that would support the transition to 100 per cent renewable transportation before 2050.
The Strategy builds on the City’s experience with electric vehicles since 2007 and formalizes the City’s role in the expansion of on-street charging options, ensuring 100 per cent of new residential parking is EV ready and provides preferential parking for zero-emission vehicles. This is combined with a program to support one of the largest car-share fleets in the world to give residents more transportation choices.
The goals of the transportation plan align with the those found in the City’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan:
• Make the majority of trips on foot, bike, and transit
• Eliminate dependence on fossil fuels
• Breathe the cleanest air of any major city in the world
“We have a target to meet or beat the most stringent WHO air quality guidelines, this means shifting all energy use – including transportation – to 100 per cent renewable as soon as possible,” said Mayor of the City of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson.
“Good air quality sits at the junction of public health, liveability and climate change, so it’s woven through our city’s development strategies, including our Renewable City Action Plan, which includes a goal to reduce our community greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050,” he said.
This work all ties back to Vancouver’s target of deriving 100 per cent of its energy from renewable sources before 2050.
Vancouver– the city that in the 1960s stopped a freeway that would have cut through its heart, the birthplace of Greenpeace and home to famous environmental activist David Suzuki— joins BreatheLife already decades into the race for urban sustainability, bringing with it success stories, lessons and renewed fierceness to the friendly competition.
Follow Vancouver’s clean air journey here.