British Columbia

Pushing for greener policies? Then give up free parking passes, Victoria city councillor urges colleagues

Victoria city councillors need to put their green policy talk into action and give up their free city parking passes, says Coun. Jeff Young.

Others have suggested changing parking privileges for bus passes or higher pay

Having a free parking spot at work encourages people to drive rather than cycle, says Coun.Jeff Young. (Jenna Reid/CBC)

Victoria city councillors need to put their green policy talk into practice and give up their free city parking passes, says Coun. Geoff Young.

Young is proposing changes to the parking privileges currently offered to Capital Regional District representatives, arguing that actions speak louder than words.  

"I've just been getting a little tired of what seems to me to be slightly sanctimonious or even hypocritical motions by the council, for example, decrying investment in fossil fuel firms,"  Young said.

"We do use automobiles. We need fuel, and for us to say we want to blame the fossil fuel companies for producing fuels seems seems a little odd."

He pointed to the push to reduce emissions and resistance to projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and number of tankers in B.C. waters as examples of simply talking the talk.

"If we are going to keep making these pronouncements, we should look look at to our own home first," Young told Gregor Craigie, the host of CBC's On The Island.

"When we say we don't want to invest funds in fossil fuel companies, are we really saying we want them to stop producing gasoline?"

Not everyone can cycle to work, argues Coun.Charlayne Thornton-Joe. Others have proposed offering bus passes or other remuneration if the parking passes are removed. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Concerns about accessibility

Young occasionally drives to work, himself, rather than cycling, he admits, and knows first-hand that having free parking at work is an incentive to hop in the car.

But not all members of council are able to cycle to work, countered Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe. Some may have health issues or drop children off at school along the way or have meetings in several different locations around the city.

"As councillors, we need to walk the talk," she agreed. "But one of the things we have to make sure of is that … council is accessible to all."

The parking permits are also part of a larger remuneration package for staff, which is why some councillors have proposed changing the parking passes for bus passes or higher wages instead, Thornton-Joe said.

She said she's open to the idea but would need more information on how the changes would play out.

"Each and every one of us have different needs," she said.

"[We need] a little bit more information on what does that entail."

Council has requested a staff report on the financial implications of eliminating parking passes as part of a review of council remuneration

"I have no problem looking at the the reports," she said.

"Councillor Young brings up larger issues of how councillors conduct themselves, the motions they bring forward and [whether they are] practicing that."

With files from On The Island

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