I suspect the goal for Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision council is to simply exhaust those who oppose their radical agenda. I know I am experiencing a sad acceptance that nothing might be done to stop an elected leader from wielding power unchecked. The latest effort by the mayor to legislate beyond his authority is coming before council on Tuesday, when it likely will pass the Renewable City Strategy, which aims to eliminate fossil fuel use for the entire city by 2050.
The scope of the plan is astonishing and delves into matters no municipal government in Canada has the authority to regulate. According to the strategic plan, all “energy uses within the city limits, including those uses on non-city lands” would have to be 100% derived from renewable energy. This means everyone is affected, not just city staff, contractors and facilities, but private companies, buildings and individuals.
In a massive overreach, the city plans to push drivers out of gas-powered cars and into electric or hybrid vehicles running on biofuels. It has no authority to regulate in this area. Does it plan to ban gasoline sales within city limits? What about drivers who visit — would they be required to park gas-powered cars outside city limits and take transit in? How about commercial and freight transportation? It isn’t clear which technologies will come to dominate for commercial use, but the plan suggests, “biofuels, biomethane and hydrogen are all possible.”
I believe it goes unsaid how delusional this is. One key component the city does have the authority to regulate is the energy use of buildings within the city — private and public. The strategy is to ban the use of natural gas and rely on solar and hydroelectric power to achieve zero emissions. Considering the impact of Lower Mainland weather on solar production, it’s not surprising the plan goes to great lengths to assure there will be plenty of access to cleaner hydroelectric power.
Does this plan not prove the need for the increased hydroelectric power from Site C? I expect Robertson to come out strongly in favour of the new dam, as small run-of-river projects certainly won’t be able to power all the buildings in Vancouver by 2050. Regardless, the city has no idea of what the costs are to implement this plan. Council should vote no.
Brent Stafford, The Duel – 24hours Vancouver – November 1, 2015.