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Vancouver Transit Plan Would Raise Jobs, Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Finds New Report

Metro Vancouver’s proposed transit plan would mean more jobs, a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions and a better quality of life, according to a report released this week.

The study, conducted for the labour and environmental alliances Green Jobs B.C. and Blue Green Canada, found that approval of the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan would bring major benefits to the Lower Mainland.

“The Mayors’ Council plan, if adopted, will create family-sustaining green jobs, reduce travel times, ease congestion and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. This plan will transform the way people get around,” said Lisa Matthaus, co-chair of Green Jobs B.C.

Voting is now underway in a referendum on a proposed 0.5 per cent Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax. If approved, the estimated annual revenue of $250-million would be used to partially fund an $8-billion, 10 year transit plan.

Among projects included in the plan are more rapid bus routes, increased SkyTrain, Canada Line, SeaBus and West Coast Express services, a new, four-lane Pattullo Bridge, rapid transit along Broadway, two new Light Rail Transit lines connecting Surrey City Centre to Guildford, Newton and Langley  and extensions of cycling and pedestrian walkway networks.

The study, written by public policy researcher and former deputy minister of transportation Blair Redlin and economist David Fairey, found that, over a decade, the plan would result in 43,800 person years in new employment, $2.96 billion in wages and $4.48 billion in GDP, while reducing projected greenhouse gas emissions by 8.2 per cent.

“Transit occupies a sweet spot for creating green jobs that reduce our environmental footprint. They are a classic green jobs generator,” says the report.

“The devastating impacts of global climate change are clearer by the day. Dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced. And we can do it by creating good green jobs that also help build a just and prosperous economy for everyone.”

Currently, more than 6,000 people in Metro Vancouver work in mass transit and the report predicts that the plan will not only create 3,600 more direct jobs in construction, operation and maintenance of vehicles, it will also make it easier for people to get to work, putting 60,000 more jobs within reach.

Investing in transit creates 10 times more jobs than investing in fossil fuel extraction, said Charley Beresford, Blue Green Canada chair.

“In the oil and gas patch in 2014, which you could argue was the peak, there were 6,200 direct B.C jobs. That’s roughly equivalent to the jobs that already exist in transit and with the Mayors’ Plan there would be a 60 per cent uptick. That gives an idea of the impact for B.C,” Beresford said.

“We’re past the argument about economy versus environment. The world is getting serious about building a green, inclusive economy and this plan is in step with that process.”

The report found that road congestion in Metro Vancouver costs $487-million a year and reduces business revenue by $591.8-million. As the population grows, the costs would almost double by 2045, but, by implementing the Mayors’ Council plan, those costs could be reduced by up to 41 per cent.

“We’ll save more than $1-billion in traffic congestion costs. The distances people drive and the costs of excess emissions will all be reduced by about one-third,” says the report.

Transportation is the top source of greenhouse gas emissions in B.C and, in order to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gases to 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020, the province is aiming to double transit ridership by 2020.

The study finds that, currently, emissions are forecast to increase to more than 5.1-million tonnes a year by 2030, but, with the Mayors’ Council plan, they will rise to 4.7-million tones – an 8.2 per cent improvement.

The plan has met with opposition from groups such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which argues that many residents cannot afford the tax and that TransLink is a wasteful organization. When it was revealed that former CEO Ian Jarvis will be paid almost half a million dollars a year until his contract expires next year, those campaigning for a no vote gained traction.

Governance problems do need to be addressed, but voters should look at the advantages offered by the plan, Beresford said.

“These are the jobs of our future. We need this infrastructure to get around and we need it for our quality of life.”

The Mayors’ Council Transit Plan: Good Jobs Clean Skies by Langley Teachers' Association

Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

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Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?

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