Sometimes it is the details that make or break a project-and if you are the Province of British Columbia’s Premier and you have signed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change-well, you might want to look at the fine print. In his opinion article in the Vancouver Sun Eric Doherty notes that there’s a clause that shows a policy shift that could “dramatically reduce climate pollution from transportation”.

“Over the past decades the federal government has funded transportation infrastructure with little or no regard for climate pollution. They spent billions of public dollars every year on projects that increase climate pollution, such as urban highway expansion. And since projects are usually cost-shared, one billion of federal money is often matched by two billion from the province and region or municipality. Largely as a result of this perverse spending, between 1990 and 2014 climate pollution from transportation increased 32 per cent.”

Eric notes that  the SightLine Institute found that “adding one mile of new highway lane will increase CO2 emissions by more than 100,000 tons over 50 yearsConsidering that transportation is the second-biggest source of climate pollution in Canada, the effect of road expansion must not be ignored”. That framework that the Premier just signed commits governments at both levels to  “shift from higher- to lower-emitting types of transportation, including through investing in infrastructure.”  The examples include shifting from driving to transit and cycling, as well as shifting freight from trucks to rail.

All the mayors in Metro Vancouver rejected the 3.5 billion dollar ten lane Massey Bridge except the Mayor of Delta. Now originally the Mayors rejected this massive bridge project because it is in the wrong place and is against the Regional Plan. But, as Eric Doherty points out,  ” the Massey Bridge proposal also violates the federal-provincial climate framework”.

The Port Mann bridge was built by the Province without Federal funding and it was also opposed by Metro Vancouver. The Federal government instead put their funding into transit. Eric Doherty notes “Now everyone who wants better transit has a new tool to help ensure our public funds are not spent to make the climate crisis worse. The first step is to get your municipality and regional district to endorse this new policy of shifting money away from road projects that increase pollution to public transit. Then be prepared to demand that your mayor and councillors actively oppose the next polluting urban-highway-expansion project that the provincial government announces.”