The Province, Gordon Clark, Published: August 10, 2016
The green fabulists who occupy Vancouver City Hall released a report last month just as I was escaping on holidays from their daily insanity in which they patted themselves on the back for how well they are doing at pretending to turn our little burg into the Greenest City in the Known Universe™.
Given that Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Visionaries have packed the civil service with green, at times underqualified, fellow travellers, I doubt I’m the only person likely to question the accuracy of their claimed “successes.” The lack of answers from city staff to simple questions about the cost of Vision’s goals posed by opposition Coun. George Affleck and others should worry taxpayers.
One claim in particular caught my eye — the suggestion that vehicle use is down in Vancouver. Now, I’m not a big vehicle user — my little seven-year-old pickup only has 36,000 kilometres on it — but from the gridlock one experiences in Vancouver virtually all day, it sure doesn’t seem like car use is down in the GCITKU. In fact, as a lifetime Vancouverite, I’ve never seen the city more congested than since Vision took over and I don’t think it’s only because of their lack of commitment to moving traffic or their various street-clogging, polluting initiatives.
ICBC figures show that I’m right — numbers that the Visionaries might consider before further exercises in self-flummery. (Vision’s bragging that the city has the lowest per-capita greenhouse-gas emissions in North America fails to note that it was true when they took office, thanks to our warm climate and heavy use of low-carbon hydroelectric power made possible by the vision of people like former Social Credit premier W.A.C. Bennett who, ironically, may be the province’s best-ever environmentalist.)
Since Vision took power in November 2008, the number of registered vehicles in Vancouver has grown by 9.6 per cent — outpacing the 7.4-per-cent increase in population over the same period, according to B.C. Stats. (The number of vehicles in Vancouver grew to 354,374 in January from 323,384 in January 2008, while the population increased to 648,608 in December 2015 from 603,943 in 2008.)
That means that while Vision has been running the show, the number of vehicles in Vancouver has been growing quicker than the population. That kind of messes with the whole narrative that city residents are switching en masse to bicycles.
If you think about it, the increase in vehicles should come as no surprise. Under Vision’s neighbourhood-annoying densification plans, city blocks that once contained a couple dozen single-family homes and 30 or 40 cars now have apartment towers with parkades holding hundreds of vehicles. Densification of housing also means densification of motor vehicles and our streets. As well, as I’ve said before, the population of Canada’s most expensive city is getting, on average, older and richer since those are increasingly the only people who can really afford to live here.
It’s getting to the point where you don’t feel you really belong in Vancouver unless you drive a Maserati.
To be fair, Vancouver isn’t the worst Metro Vancouver community in terms of vehicles increasing faster than population. That happened in eight of 12 of the largest Greater Vancouver cities, most spectacularly in Surrey, where vehicle registrations grew by 25.8 per cent between 2008 and 2016 compared with population growth of 19.9 per cent. Vehicle registrations in Port Coquitlam, according to ICBC, increased by 17.6 per cent during that period, while population only increased by 8.6 per cent.
But in four vehicle-dependent communities (Coquitlam, the Langleys, Port Moody and Richmond) the growth in vehicles was actually lower than population growth. Langley City and municipality combined had a 13.8-per-cent increase in total population, while the number of vehicles in the two communities only increased by 4.1 per cent since 2008. Richmond’s population grew by 10.3 per cent, while the number of vehicles only increased by 7.4 per cent.
Perhaps those communities should consider claiming that they are the region’s true green champions.