Mayor Gregor plants a symbolic vegetable/flower garden on front lawn of City Hall
There is no shortage of civic politicians these days who are preaching the “green” gospel. If you don’t recognize them, they’re the ones advocating for a five-cent tax on plastic shopping bags, or pushing to subsidize solar panels for consumers.
Meanwhile, thousands of acres of land are being developed in Metro Vancouver for the first time. According to a calculation by the Global Civic Policy Society, an urban issues think tank, green space in the Lower Mainland is being converted at nine square feet per second. The society has a “sprawl meter” on their globalcivic.org website to illustrate the rapid pace of change.
If our civic leaders are so concerned about the environment, why are more of them not focused on combating urban sprawl rather than championing programs that only tinker around the edges?
Unfortunately, it all comes down to what our politicians believe will payoff for them at the polls. In other words, big green talk translates into big votes on Election Day.
The sad truth is that a news conference regarding the banning of Tim Horton’s disposable cups garners way more positive press than a pronouncement about better land use planning. This is despite the fact well-planned cities will yield much better results when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint.
The single most powerful tool any city has in its battle against climate change is land use zoning. The evidence couldn’t be any clearer. If you build communities clustered around where people live, where they work, shop and recreate, you dramatically reduce a city’s use of fossil fuels.
Want to save the planet? Then build better cities. That’s something that the public needs to grasp.
If politicians are really serious about tackling climate change, they’ll need to do more than tell us to change our light bulbs or grow our own tomatoes.
Taxing your shopping bags or subsidizing electric cars might look like a way to save the planet, but don’t buy these symbolic gestures rolled out by politicians.
Real climate leaders just don’t tell us we’ll have the greenest city. Instead they’ll show voters how we can build one.