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Climate Action

Climate change is affecting our everyday lives and we need to take immediate action to mitigate human-accelerated climate change. There’s many things we can do at the municipal level to make Victoria a green and sustainable city for generations to come. It’s easy to talk about climate change, but my goal is to move beyond just talk and into action.

Walking the talk: practical strategies for sustainability in Victoria

Sustainable Land Development

Conscientious property development is necessary for ongoing economic growth and housing affordability, but it often comes at a high environmental price. However, we can find ways to reduce that pricetag while still supporting our economy. In conversation with my neighbour, science and environmental journalist Erica Gies, I learned how natural groundwater hydration can be used in new developments to increase environmental sustainability.

 

Victoria, like many cities around the world, buried its natural creeks and wetlands, filling them with dirt or encasing them in pipes. The city has also paved over square kilometers of soil, preventing water from absorbing into the ground. As storms and droughts increase with climate change, these development choices can lead to urban flooding and local water scarcity.

 

We can build vegetated ditches lined with water-loving plants along roadways, parking lots, and in low spots of private property. It can include permeable pavement that allows water to infiltrate, and decreasing requirements for parking lots and driveways — which also support active transportation, such as walking and biking.

 

Groundwater can naturally hydrate the surrounding plantlife, which in turn increases the area’s resistance to wildfire and creates a surface that collects rainwater back into the groundwater system.

 

The city can adopt a historical ecology map of the city to consult for future development projects. That way, when developers propose a new building on a site where a hidden stream flows, there could be a recommendation to bring it back up to the surface, a strategy called daylighting.

 

For example, Rock Bay Creek flows from Harris Pond all the way to Rock Bay. The plans to redevelop 175 low-income housing units at 2501 Blanshard, which is currently at the feasibility stage, can include daylighting Rock Bay Creek. How beautiful and practical might this be? It would provide a natural ecosystem for local children to play around and for adults to enjoy. It would reestablish homes for other forms of life, many of which have been pushed to the brink by human development choices. And it would absorb more water in heavy rains, reducing flooding and storing it underground locally to supply plants and people in drier times, also creating a more wildfire resilient area.

Map of Rock Bay Creek

 

 

Using water wisely will become even more important in the future, as temperatures and populations rise. We nee to build responsibly to ensure a sustainable future for the next generation.

 

A Walkable City

Walking is the mode of transportation that is the most eco-friendly and has the lowest impact on our city’s infrastructure. Prioritizing  housing development around urban villages can make our whole city more walkable. When groceries, drug stores, cafes, pubs, and clinics are within walking distance, people have the option of staying close to home if they wish. Investment in vibrant urban villages outside of the downtown core will provide easier access to daily resources for more citizens and incentivize walking over driving.  Victoria is a beautiful, walkable city. Let’s meet the daily needs of residents by developing housing in and around each urban village.

Urban Village Map

 

Accessible Transportation

For situations in which walking is not an option, transportation is a necessity. This is why sustainable, safe, and accessible transportation is one of the priorities I am focusing on in my campaign.

 

Cycling is one popular transportation option that requires support from the municipality. I recognize that bike lanes have been a subject of conflict in many urban regions. However, this usually occurs when cities haven’t planned for and built adequate infrastructure for cyclists. I’m grateful that Victoria has worked over the years to develop such infrastructure. The city’s vast bike network is both safe and accessible; I use it every day with my two children and I feel secure doing so. Cycling wasn’t always something with which I was fully comfortable, but once I took advantage of some of the cycling education programs offered in Victoria, such as Capital Bike, I felt much more confident travelling on a bike around the city. It’s now my primary mode of transit! Increasing things like storage for cargo bikes and ebikes with trailers

 

Of course, cycling is not accessible to all, and our transportation routes and options need to reflect that fact. For those who require wheelchairs, walkers, or other movement aids, safe and accessible pathways are critical. This means assessing our current bike routes (which often include pedestrian spaces) and walkways.

 

Efficient public transportation is another key element of healthy urban spaces. Optimizing our current bus system and Adding rapid transit on Douglas from Downtown to Uptown mall would lessen our reliance on private vehicles. Currently, public transit is both infrequent and unreliable. For example, some buses only come once every 30 minutes, and in the evening this can create safety and security concerns for some passengers travelling at night.

Improving Our Recycling Programs

 

Expanding our existing recycling program to include soft plastics, flexible plastic packaging and foam can help us reduce the  strain on our landfill. The city doesn’t have to do this alone. Incentivizing private businesses to receive and collect soft plastics or creating public depositories of soft plastics can reduce waste headed for Hartland. Hillside Mall and London Drugs are examples of local businesses that currently take soft plastics. Expanding the program publicly will create an uptick of citizen participation in further recycling.

I propose:

  • Daylighting creeks and streams during the development process where possible
  • Investing in Large and Small Urban Village vibrancy
  • Building housing above commercial Urban Village centres
  • Continuing to promote cycling in Victoria’s existing network
  • Ensuring safe and secure bike storage options, especially for ebikes, cargo and family bikes
  • Increasing public transit frequency
  • Planting trees throughout the city and preserving tree canopy where possible
  • Investigating the feasibility of rapid transit from Downtown to Uptown in partnership with the municipality of Saanich
  • Expanding current curb side recycling program to include soft plastic, flexible plastic and foam or creating a program partnering with local businesses to increase recycling

Read more about my platform: